Here are recent books of interest to the foreign affairs community that were not written by members of the Foreign Service.
Paul Richter, Simon & Schuster, 2019, $18/paperback, e-book available, 352 pages.
In this riveting book, veteran diplomatic correspondent Paul Richter goes behind the battles and the headlines to show what members of the U.S. Foreign Service do. The author profiles four U.S. ambassadors who took on difficult and dangerous assignments in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan: Ryan Crocker, Robert Ford, the late J. Christopher Stevens, and Anne Patterson.
“I hope that everyone who is unfamiliar with the ways of Washington reads The Ambassadors, because it conveys the professional ethos of the Foreign Service: courage, honesty and patriotism,” says Ambassador (ret.) Gordon Gray in his review of the book in the March FSJ.
Paul Richter has written about foreign policy and national security for three decades. He covered the State Department for The Los Angeles Times from 2001 to 2015, and before that, the Pentagon and the White House.
Robert B. Zoellick, Twelve, 2020, $35/hardcover, e-book available, 560 pages.
Recounting the actors and events of U.S. foreign policy, Robert B. Zoellick identifies five traditions that have emerged from America’s encounters with the world: the importance of North America; the special roles trading, transnational and technological relations play; changing attitudes toward alliances and ways of ordering connections among states; the need for public support, especially through Congress; and the belief that American policy should serve a larger purpose. These traditions frame a review of post–Cold War presidencies, which the author foresees serving as guideposts for the future.
Robert B. Zoellick has served as Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Trade Representative and president of the World Bank, among many other positions. He is now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Michael Kimmage and Matthew Rojansky, eds., Kennan Institute, Wilson Center, 2019, free/online, 214 pages.
This collection of essays by a host of foreign policy luminaries—including Dennis Ross, Richard Haass, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Jake Sullivan—originated with a February 2018 Wilson Center conference. Its purpose was to reassess George Kennan’s legacy in light of developments since his death in 2005 at the age of 101. Kennan was instrumental in shaping post–World War II U.S. policy toward Russia and established the Office of Policy Planning at the State Department. The essays, both scholarly and personal, are accompanied by interviews with four of Kennan’s successors at Policy Planning.
Michael Kimmage is a professor of history and department chair at The Catholic University of America and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund. From 2014 to 2017, he served on the State Policy Planning Staff, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio. Matthew Rojansky is director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Alex Dehgan, PublicAffairs, 2019, $28/hardcover, e-book available, 288 pages.
As damaged and volatile as it may be after decades of conflict, Afghanistan remains a beautiful country. To help preserve the country’s natural beauty, evolutionary biologist Alex Dehgan set out in 2006 to create the Afghanistan program of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Conservation proved to be a common bond between Dehgan’s team and the Afghan people. His team helped create Afghanistan’s first national park and protect endangered species, including the iconic Marco Polo sheep and the elusive snow leopard. The frustrations and obstacles that came with pursuing his mission as a U.S. government contractor in a war zone are part of this captivating story.
Alex Dehgan, who teaches at Duke University, is the founder and CEO of Conservation X Labs, an organization focused on transforming conservation through technological and financial innovation. He served previously as USAID’s chief scientist.
Samantha Power, Dey Street Books, 2019, $29.99/hardcover, e-book available, 592 pages.
In this memoir, Samantha Power recounts how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity.
Samantha Power served in the Obama administration as a human rights adviser and then as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2013-2017). Her previous book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. She is currently a professor of practice at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School.
Larry Tye, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, $36/hardcover, e-book available, 608 pages.
By recklessly charging treason against everyone from George Marshall to State Department personnel between 1950 and 1954, Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) destroyed many careers and lives. This definitive biography is the first to draw on his personal and professional papers, medical and military records, and recently unsealed transcripts of closed-door congressional hearings.
McCarthy’s chaotic, meteoric rise is a gripping and terrifying object lesson for us all. Yet his equally sudden fall from fame offers reason for hope that, given the rope, most American demagogues eventually hang themselves.
Larry Tye, a former prize-winning journalist at The Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, is the author of The New York Times bestseller Satchel, as well as The Father of Spin, Home Lands and Rising from the Rails.
Madeleine Albright, Harper, 2020, $29.99/hardcover, e-book available, 384 pages.
In 2001, when Madeleine Albright was leaving office as America’s first female Secretary of State, interviewers asked her how she wished to be remembered. “I don’t want to be remembered,” she answered. “I am still here and have much more I intend to do. As difficult as it might seem, I want every stage of my life to be more exciting than the last.”
True to that declaration, Ms. Albright has blazed her own trail, and given voice to millions who yearn for respect, regardless of gender, background or age. Hell and Other Destinations reveals this remarkable figure at her bluntest, funniest, most intimate and most serious.
Madeleine Albright served as America’s 64th Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her distinguished career also includes positions at the White House, on Capitol Hill and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Sue M. Cobb, Ian Randle Publishers, 2020, $24.95/hardcover, 376 pages.
In this memoir, Sue Cobb traces her journey from near-destitute circumstances on a small California farm to graduation from Stanford University, tennis and downhill ski racing stardom, and a successful legal practice.
Her experience in the world of diplomacy began when her husband, Charles Cobb, was appointed ambassador to Iceland and culminated when she was named U.S. envoy to Jamaica in 2001. She shares insights on policy issues, as well as useful reflections on the role of political ambassadors. As one reviewer wrote: “She cut to the meat of what an ambassador does on the job—lead, manage and take the heat.”
Sue M. Cobb served as U.S. ambassador to Jamaica (2001-2005) and is currently a principal of Cobb Partners LLC and president of the Cobb Family Foundation. She is a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Council of American Ambassadors.
Susan Lewis Solomont, Disruption Books, 2019, $16.99/paperback, e-book available, 234 pages.
When President Barack Obama appointed her husband, Alan D. Solomont, as ambassador to Spain and Andorra in 2010, Susan Lewis Solomont left her career, friends and family, and a life she loved to join her husband for more than three years in Madrid. In this memoir, Solomont recounts how she learned the rules of a diplomatic household; went on a culinary adventure with some of Spain’s greatest chefs; found her place in Madrid’s Jewish community; and discovered her own voice.
Susan Lewis Solomont has more than 30 years of experience providing strategic philanthropic counsel to private foundations. The Spanish Federation of Female Directors, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs named her International Woman of the Year in 2013.
Darren E. Tromblay, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020, $89.95/hardcover, e-book available, 277 pages.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a domestic intelligence agency, yet it has been operating beyond U.S. borders for years. Why and under what authorities does it do this? How does its activity contribute to U.S. diplomacy and national security? What role does it play in other countries? These are some of the questions the author addresses in this absorbing book about the history of the bureau’s overseas operations.
Darren E. Tromblay has served as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. government since 2005. He is the author of several books on intelligence analysis and operations, most recently Political Influence Operations: How Foreign Actors Seek to Shape U.S. Policy-Making (2018) and Spying: Assessing U.S. Domestic Intelligence Since 9/11 (2019).
Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, Doubleday, 2020, $47/hardcover, e-book available, 720 pages.
James Baker III served in senior positions under three U.S. presidents. With a long record of distinguished public service, he became known as a man who could get things done in Washington. As the 61st Secretary of State (1989-1992), Baker was a key participant in ending the Cold War. Earlier he served as chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and then as Reagan’s Treasury Secretary and chairman of the National Economic Policy Council (1985-1988). This book offers a close look at one of the most important figures in recent American history and his times.
Susan Glasser was editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine and is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Peter Baker, her husband, is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times.
Alison Pentz Bouwmeester, APB Books, 2020, $18.99/paperback, e-book available, 248 pages.
For Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, planning for retirement after many years of service can be daunting. This book is an invaluable guide to the process. Especially useful, says Associate Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Kenneth Dekleva, a retired member of the Foreign Service, in his review for the FSJ (October), are the interviews and direct quotes sprinkled through the narrative from a group of accomplished State Department, intelligence community, military and national security professionals who have been through the experience.
Alison P. Bouwmeester served for 28 years as a senior leader in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. After retiring, she spent nearly a decade as a senior business executive in the defense contracting industry. In 2018, she became a certified professional career coach and founded Futurity, a business that provides career transition advice and HR consulting services.
Robert Hutchings and Jeremi Suri, eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, $29.99/paperback, e-book available, 268 pages.
This textbook, the first-ever comparative study of its subject, surveys and compares the world’s 10 largest diplomatic services: those of Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Chapters cover the distinctive histories and cultures of the services, and their preparations for the new challenges of the 21st century.
Robert Hutchings is a professor and former dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. A former special adviser to the Secretary of State, with the rank of ambassador, he is the author and editor of six books.
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author and editor of nine books and hosts a weekly podcast, “This is Democracy.”
Robert M. Gates, Alfred A. Knopf, 2020, $29.95/hardcover, e-book available, 464 pages.
In 1991 the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the United States stood at the apex of global power. More than a quarter century later, though still the most powerful country militarily and economically, the United States is challenged at every level on every front. How did we get here, and what do we do now? In this book, a quintessential national security insider assesses critical post–Cold War foreign policy decisions in 15 places and draws out the lessons for the future.
Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, served eight presidents of both political parties at Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. He is the author of Duty (2014) and A Passion for Leadership (2017).
Vince Houghton, Cornell University Press, 2019, $27.95/hardcover, e-book available, 248 pages.
How did the Truman administration completely miss Moscow’s rapid development of nuclear capabilities following World War II? After all, the Manhattan Project’s intelligence team had penetrated the Third Reich and knew every detail of the Nazis’ plan for an atomic bomb.
As Houghton documents, the Central Intelligence Agency did its best to assess the Soviet Union’s scientists and laboratories. But scientific intelligence was extremely difficult to do well, and when the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb in 1949, no one at the CIA saw it coming.
Vince Houghton is curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and host and creative director of its podcast, SpyCast. He is also the author of Nuking the Moon and Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board (Penguin, 2019).
Susan M. Stein, Potomac Books, 2020, $34.95/hardcover, e-book available, 360 pages.
On July 18, 1924, a mob in Tehran killed U.S. Foreign Service Officer Robert Whitney Imbrie at the age of 41. Nearly a century later, Susan Stein tells the fascinating story of this forgotten figure.
Assigned to Russia for his first posting, Imbrie witnessed the October Revolution of 1917, fled ahead of a Bolshevik arrest order and continued to track communist activity in Turkey even as the country’s war of independence unfolded around him. His murder in Tehran set off political repercussions that cloud relations between the United States and Iran to this day.
Susan M. Stein spent 35 years teaching, including pedagogical collaborations in Ukraine and Uganda. A columnist and feature writer for the Omaha World-Herald’s Sunday magazine for 15 years, she is an editor of fiction and nonfiction publications.
Michael G. Carew, Lexington Books, 2020, $95/hardcover, e-book available, 282 pages.
This book documents the emergence of the Cold War between 1944 and 1948, emphasizing recently available Soviet scholarship and information from other archives. Unlike prior works on the origins of the Cold War by James Gaddis, George Kennan and Ernest May in the 1980s, Carew analyzes the effects of American demobilization following World War II and the major restructuring of the State and Defense departments to present a more realistic appraisal of the formulation of U.S. policy.
Michael G. Carew is a lecturer–assistant professor at Baruch College. He is the author of several books on World War II, including Becoming the Arsenal: The American Industrial Mobilization for World War II, 1938-1942 and The Power to Persuade: FDR, the News Magazines, and Going to War, 1939-1941.
Anna Velikaya and Greg Simons, eds., Palgrave MacMillan, 2020, $119.99/hardcover, e-book available, 285 pages.
Although some articles and book chapters exist, there are almost no books devoted to Russian public diplomacy. That makes this anthology an invaluable contribution to the field, with chapters by prominent scholars, most of them Russians, who discuss best practices. But the book’s “real value,” according to Vivian Walker in her FSJ review (October), lies “in its illuminating insights into Russia’s unique public diplomacy challenges.”
Anna Velikaya is a research fellow at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Greg Simons is an associate professor at the Institute of Russian and Eurasian Studies, part of Uppsala University, and a lecturer in communication science at Turiba University in Riga.
Seth Jacobs, Cambridge University Press, 2020, $34.99/hardcover, e-book available, 406 pages.
This highly readable book, a volume in the Cambridge Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations series, presents a heretofore neglected aspect of American foreign policy, namely a pattern of insubordination. It turns out that many milestones in the history of U.S. foreign affairs, such as the acquisition of Louisiana territory in 1803 and preservation of the Anglo-American “special relationship” during World War I, were largely the result of ambassadors, ministers and envoys refusing to heed their instructions. While also examining the failures, Jacobs argues that the disobedience frequently produced improvements for the nation.
Seth Jacobs is a professor at Boston College. A political and cultural historian of 20th-century America, he is the author of The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos (2012), two books on Ngo Dinh Diem and numerous articles on aspects of the Vietnam War.
Glen Johnson, Disruption Books, 2019, $25/paperback, e-book available, 300 pages.
Reporter Glen Johnson was happily covering politics for The Boston Globe in 2012 when he was selected to be deputy assistant secretary of State for strategic communications. For the next four years, 2013-2017, he accompanied John Kerry as he became the most traveled Secretary of State in history.
In his quest to create the most complete photo archive possible, Johnson shot more than 100,000 photographs of Secretary Kerry all over the world, some of which are featured in the book. This volume documents the dedication of a longtime public servant and his team to the practice of diplomacy.
Glen Johnson covered five presidential elections over three decades of reporting for The Boston Globe, the Associated Press, a string of local newspapers and the historic City News Bureau of Chicago. He is now a writer, consultant and teacher living outside Boston.
Richard Haass, Penguin Press, 2020, $28/hardcover, e-book available, 400 pages.
“This is the book that explains how the world really works, how it is changing, and why it matters,” says former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Aiming to raise foreign policy literacy broadly, the author presents an “essential history” from 1618 to the present, then tours the regions of the world. Next, he discusses issues of the “global era” such as migration, cybersecurity, currency and monetary policy. Finally, he considers elements of the world order such as alliances, war between countries, sovereignty and selfdetermination.
Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the senior Middle East adviser to President George H.W. Bush, as director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff (2001-2003), and as U.S. envoy to both the Cyprus and Northern Ireland peace talks. He is the author of many other books, including A World in Disarray (2018).
John T. Haralson, Xlibris, 2019, $19.99/ paperback, e-book available, 160 pages.
Formalized training in crisis management was still in its infancy when Lt. Col. John Haralson began working for the State Department in 1986 as program manager for the Crisis Management Training Program. The new training program Haralson helped launch was met with mixed feelings: “We are diplomats, we do diplomacy, we don’t do security,” some said. Haralson would go on to facilitate numerous exercises that helped diplomats at post better prepare for the worst.
In this memoir, a volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Oral History Bound Book Program, Haralson describes his nearly 50 years on the front lines of American crises and conflicts. Before joining State, he had served for 28 years in the U.S. Army, with combat tours in Laos and Vietnam with Special Forces (Green Berets). He led State’s Crisis Management Training Program and taught at the Foreign Service Institute until 2007.