Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stripe-Panted Cookie Pushers

At the west end of the diplomatic lobby of the Department of State, is a plaque that states: "in honor of diplomatic and consular officers of the United States who while on active duty lost their lives under heroic or tragic circumstances."  The first name is William Palfrey, commissioned by the Continental Congress as Consul General to France, who set sail in 1780 and was never heard from again.  The plaque continues with only the simplest of explanations noting the cause of death as yellow fever, shot by sniper, volcano, or exposure.   

Diplomats may be a misunderstood group but this list includes stories of some greats who did their best to connect the world.

1.  A Diplomat Among Warriors: The Unique World of a Foreign Service Expert, Charles Murphy (1964).  Murphy had one of the most fascinating careers of any diplomat.  He served as the Deputy Chief of Mission to our Embassy in Paris during the German occupation and later moved to North Africa where he  planned the Allied landing in French North Africa. Subsequently, he became a senior political advisor to General Dwight D. Eisenhower for the remainder of the war.  After the war he served in occupied Germany, and then in 1949 became ambassador to Belgium. In 1952 he was appointed the first U.S. ambassador to post-Occupation Japan.  Bought used.

2.  Inside an Embassy: The Political Role of Diplomats Abroad (1992).  As slim volume that collects first hand studies of how a country team at an Embassy works.  Bought used State Department. 

3.  The Diplomats, Martin Mayer (1983).  Mayer wrote a series of books about bakers,  lawyers and diplomats.  Bought used.

4.  Fires in the In-Box, John Leacacos (1968).   The ABC's how of the State Department works.  Somewhat dated but still applicable.  Bought used State Department book sale. 

5.  The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, the Men Who Introduced the World to Itself, Jonathan Wright (2006).  The earliest ambassadors had to be intrepid travelers, politicians and salesman.  Bought new.    

The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, the Men Who Introduced the World to Itself
Sketches from a Life

6.  Sketches from a Life, George Kennan (1989).  The father of Containment, he witnessed Communism and Nazism first hand.    Bought used.  

7.  The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World they Made, Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas (1986).  The story of the men that helped shape American foreign policy during WWII and after.  Gift.  

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

8.  The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite, Robert Kaplan (1993).  A series of profiles of dozens of American diplomats who worked in the Arab world over the past 200 years and opened up the Middle East.  Bought new.

Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite

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