The Foreign Service Journal, November 2023

38 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of the Strongman Charles Dunst, Hodder & Stoughton, 2023, £25.00/hardcover, e-book available, 448 pages. Unfortunately for U.S. diplomats, after the Jan. 6 insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, it felt exponentially more difficult to extol the virtues of democracies and fight autocratic tendencies abroad. In Defeating the Dictators, Charles Dunst argues that autocrats around the world, including in Russia and China, are becoming more powerful, making this a dangerous time for democracies. Further, he writes, “beating the drum for liberal values and economics abroad while these same principles appear to struggle at home will do us no good.” Dunst calls for a “no-bullshit approach to the future,” urging Americans to take a hard look at both our own failures and the successes of other countries so that we can band together and defeat the dictators. He points to Singapore, a stable and thriving autocracy, saying any attempt to sell democracy as an ideal to such a country is “doomed to fail.” His book is intended as a road map to reinstitute the basics of good governance in democracies before autocracies take any more ground. Charles Dunst is deputy director of research and analytics at The Asia Group, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a contributing editor at American Purpose. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. A former foreign correspondent, Dunst holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Hamilton College. A Son’s Promise: A Memoir of Perseverance from Liberia to America J. Marsilius Flumo, Bitterroot Mountain Publishing, 2021, $19.95/paperback, e-book available, 550 pages. J. Marsilius Flumo’s memoir is a tribute to his mother, whom he credits with pushing him to a successful future even though it required numerous sacrifices on her part. Flumo writes of his upbringing in rural Liberia and of the tragedies that marked the lives of his parents and grandparents, including the murder of his grandfather at the hands of vengeful villagers. The book offers a view into tribal relationships, beliefs, and conflicts. Flumo’s early childhood is interesting in that it is so very different from a typical American childhood. His mother finds a way to send him to a private Catholic school to pursue his education, changing his trajectory for the better. From there he goes to the University of Liberia, where he experiences discrimination because of his status as an indigenous “country boy.” Flumo eventually finds work with USAID in Monrovia, escapes Liberia during the civil war in 1990, and ultimately becomes a U.S. citizen. J. Marsilius Flumo teaches at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Washington. He worked as a locally engaged staff member with USAID in Monrovia from 1989 to 1990. He has a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Gonzaga University. The Palgrave Handbook of Diplomatic Reform and Innovation Edited by Paul Webster Hare, Juan Luis Manfredi-Sánchez, and Kenneth Weisbrode, Palgrave Macmillan, 2023, $219.99/hardcover, e-book available, 775 pages. This handbook opens with the premise that “diplomacy is a neglected global issue” that is nevertheless a public good in need of nurturing. The 40 scholars and practitioners from more than 30 countries who contributed to the handbook offer their ideas for ways to innovate, improve, and reform the practice of diplomacy. Contributors examine the effects of the “digital revolution” on diplomacy as they look at various global organizations and ministries that must be reformed to meet the needs of this new, connected world. Most of the rules of diplomacy were established more than six decades ago, they write, and so organizations like the United Nations need updating; a role also must be found for tech-focused companies. Paul Webster Hare was a British diplomat for 30 years and the British ambassador to Cuba from 2001 to 2004. He is a senior lecturer in international relations at Boston University. Juan Luis Manfredi-Sánchez is a visiting professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a full professor at University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Kenneth Weisbrode is an assistant professor of history at Bilkent University in Türkiye; co-founder of the Network for New Diplomatic History; and co-editor of the journal Diplomatica.