The Paneless Window Washer

The air and leaves outside turn to fall. In the week ahead we'll celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Navrathri, and the official start of Autumn. I'll hold the first book discussion for my debut novel, 18 months old already. My Foreign Service colleagues and I will start the annual ritual of progress into new jobs, new countries, … Continue reading The Paneless Window Washer

Stand Up Comedy

In an effort to prove why writing is easy and speaking is hard, I decided to do live stand-up at the library in Oakton, VA. Drop by to find out why I write instead of preach, and what's behind that title---Two Pumps for the Body Man. Register here.

Diplomatic Casualties

The morning of December 6, 2004, five heavily armed terrorists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I remember loud pops from the AK-47s and the muffled thud of improvised explosive devices; I remember hours hunkered under a desk and a scramble for protection when the Marine called “Gas!; I remember crouching through our … Continue reading Diplomatic Casualties

Diplomats and Terrorists

Last month American Diplomacy included my review of Ambassador James R.  Bullington's Foreign Service Memoir, The Road Less Traveled. The book recounts a career that began with the U.S. military build-up in Vietnam and took the author to Burma, Chad, Benin, and Burundi, where he served as Ambassador, and Niger, where he served from 2001-2006 as Country Director … Continue reading Diplomats and Terrorists

Expeditionary Diplomacy

The otherwise respectable American Diplomacy, which publishes 'Foreign Service Despatches and Periodic Reports on U.S. Foreign Policy,' included my review  of of Ambassador James R. Bullington's Foreign Service Memoir, The Road Less Traveled, in the latest lineup. The memoir recounts a career that started in expeditionary diplomacy for the State Department during the U.S. military … Continue reading Expeditionary Diplomacy

Voice

Paul Theroux's voice in black and white, on the page, captivated me from the start: natural, authoritative, transferring all kinds of observation from the most minute cultural idiosyncrasy to the cruelest cut at character---fictional or real.  I started reading him 20 years ago with My Secret History. Until today, I'd known Theroux only through text … Continue reading Voice

More Foreign Service Fiction

The latest release from ex-Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren, author of controversial Iraq reconstruction expose We Meant Well, is set during World War Two. We may find ourselves in 1940s Japan, but Hooper’s War aims its barbs dead-center at the contemporary conflagrations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The men and women in Hooper confront the complex ethical decisions of war, … Continue reading More Foreign Service Fiction

New Foreign Service Fiction

After 20 years on the diplomatic beat ex-Foreign Service Officer Matthew Palmer has released his fourth tradecraft thriller: Enemy of the Good. U.S.–Kyrgyz relations are at a critical juncture. The U.S. is negotiating the details of a massive airbase that would significantly expand the American footprint in Central Asia, tipping the scale in “the Great Game” … Continue reading New Foreign Service Fiction

In Flight Entertainment for POTUS

What are Trump & Co. reading as they wing their way to Saudi Arabia tonight? Two Pumps for the Body Man! This black comedy set in Saudi Arabia does for American diplomacy what Catch 22 did for military logic: The enemy in the War on Terror can't kill us if our own institutions kill us … Continue reading In Flight Entertainment for POTUS

Mother Land: A Review for Mothers Day

Stephen King reviews Paul Theroux's new novel, Mother Land at the New York Times this week (PeaceCorpsWorldwide brought it to my attention). King gives voice to the love-hate relationship so many readers have with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, novelist and travel writer, whose prolific career spans nearly six decades and whose vicious pen reaches the furthest places on the … Continue reading Mother Land: A Review for Mothers Day