Telling Your Story

Letter from the Editor


Welcome to our annual celebration of books by members of the Foreign Service community—“In Their Own Write”—and books “Of Related Interest” to the community. This year’s catalog includes 81 books.

Highlights include a stirring memoir by longtime FSN Charles Ndibui, who survived the 1998 terrorist bombing of U.S. Embassy Nairobi; active-duty FSO Chris Smith’s tome on Ukraine and the 2014 Euromaidan protests; Masha Yovanovitch’s powerful memoir; and an assortment of intriguing books in our new How-To & Self-Help category—from an international affairs career guide for young Black leaders to a résumé-building guide and a manual for learning the “real” Indonesian language.

Once inspired by these books, you’ll no doubt want to consider writing one yourself. USAID FSO (ret.) Frank Young is here to tell you how to approach the daunting task of “Memoir Writing: The Art of Telling Your Story.”

Our cover story introduces, through excerpts from AFSA President Eric Rubin’s Inside Diplomacy interview with Senior FSO Jennifer Bachus, the State Department Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau in “New Bureau, New Cyber Priorities in Foreign Affairs.”

In Speaking Out, FSO Robert Domaingue tells us “Why the State Department Needs an Office of Diplomatic Gaming.” Let us know if you agree.

In “Machiavelli on How to Be a Good Diplomat,” Ambassador (ret.) David Shear reveals a less ruthless side of this 16th-century political philosopher—Machiavelli as an exiled statesman, giving advice to his enemy’s representative to Spain on, first and foremost, the importance of contact work.

Sébastien Perrot-Minnot, honorary consul of Guatemala in Martinique, shares news and photos from ceremonies honoring those lost 120 years ago in a disastrous volcanic eruption on the island, in “Memorializing the U.S. Consular Presence in Martinique.”

In Letters-Plus, former Career Minister James Goodby offers thoughts on the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev in “Who Lost the USSR?” And in the Reflection, FSO (ret.) Charles Gurney recounts the harrowing story of the time war came to Liberia in 1989.

In his President’s Views column, Ambassador Eric Rubin calls out both the administration and Congress on the painfully slow pace of nominations and confirmations, asking, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

We hope you enjoy this edition—there’s sure to be something in this book collection for most everyone on your holiday list! And as always, we want to hear from you. Send responses to FSJ articles—or pitch your own for a future edition—to

Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal.


When sharing or linking to FSJ articles online, which we welcome and encourage, please be sure to cite the magazine (The Foreign Service Journal) and the month and year of publication. Please check the permissions page for further details.