The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 83 you’ll feel a homesick twinge as you read her descriptions of the sites you yourself once wan- dered. But even if you’ve never been posted there, you’ll still recognize that strange land- scape that is life lived overseas: the confusion, the shame, the sadness that sometimes envelop you as you try to navigate the strange shores of foreign cultures with strangers-turned-friends. Donna Scaramastra Gorman is the Journal’ s associate editor. A writer whose work has appeared in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor, she is the spouse of a Dip- lomatic Security agent. She has lived in Am- man, Moscow, Yerevan, Almaty and Beijing, and currently resides in Washington, D.C. The Life and Work of a Moscow Pro The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson, America’s Man in Cold War Moscow Jenny Thompson and Sherry Thompson, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018, $85/hardcover, $39.95/paperback, 572 pages. Reviewed By Jonathan B. Rickert Winston Churchill famously called Russia “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Those words could also apply, at least to some extent, to Llewellyn E. Thompson Jr., a career diplomat and arguably the pre-eminent American Kremlinologist of the mid- 20th century. A two-time ambassador to Moscow, Thompson eschewed the spotlight and never wrote a memoir; nor is he the subject of any other book- length biography. Far from an ego-driven self-promoter, he could be self-effacing to the point of near invisibility. Thus, the task of bringing the details of his life and distinguished career to public attention has fallen to his daughters, Jenny and Sherry Thomp- son. Though neither is a professional historian, they spent more than 15 years scouring official archives and fam- ily papers and interviewing scores of people on both sides of the Atlantic who knew or worked with their father to pro- duce a thorough, vivid and compelling picture of the man and his career. In the process, they help fill crucial gaps in our understanding of Cold War diplomacy. (See their article about their father in the November 2008 FSJ .) Llewellyn “Tommy” Thompson (1904- 1972) was born and raised in Las Animas, a flyspeck of a community in south- eastern Colorado. At loose ends after graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Colorado, he met by chance with a retired U.S. consular officer who encouraged him to consider a Foreign Service career. Thompson subse- quently moved to Washington and joined the Foreign Service in 1929. After postings to Sri Lanka and Geneva, he returned to Washington, D.C., before heading to Moscow in 1939, where he was to spend 10 years dur- ing his career and where Soviet affairs became the focus of his professional life. His experiences in wartime Moscow gave him a feel for the country and respect for ordinary Russians, as well as a deep understanding of the inner workings of the regime. The authors describe in detail the arc of their father’s career, intertwining it with scenes from his personal life, includ- ing tales of family vacations that weren’t, household effects that ended up at the bottom of New York Harbor, school- ing and health issues, and much more. Among many professional high points for Thompson, three stand out. The first was his role in achieving the 1954 Trieste Agreement, and the second was his participation in the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, both while he was serving as high commissioner/ambassador to Aus- tria. Although the conclusion of a multi- lateral negotiation can never be attrib- uted solely to one person, the successful completion of these two groundbreaking agreements undoubtedly was due largely to Thompson’s negotiating skills. Among them were patience, discretion, honesty and a keen understanding of the other side’s point of view and political needs— he never took a zero-sum approach to negotiating. Trilateral negotiations took place among the United States, United King- dom (as occupying powers) and Yugo- slavia on the disputed city of Trieste and adjoining territory. In essence, the task was to convince both the Italians and Yugoslavs that their interests were being addressed fairly. That neither side was entirely happy with the outcome prob- ably suggests that it met that Solomonic test. Of all his diplomatic achievements, Thompson recalled Trieste with the greatest satisfaction. In addition to being a biography, the book serves as a description and explanation of the importance of professional diplomacy.