Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

Among the 53 titles compiled in this Month's Foreign Service Journal is Dan Whitman's Answer Coming Soon. Whatever else it provides to those who read it, Answer undeniably will provide this: a reflection on the power of books. The power is especially profound for those who spend their lives in places where electricity can be spotty … Continue reading Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

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The Polyglot Archipelago

Seven islands form the area now called Mumbai (Bombay until 1995). Marathi, Hindi, and English are just a few of the languages spoken there, including Bambaiva, a blend of Gujarati, Konkani, Urdu, Indian English, and more. Its home to 18.5 million, India’s most populous city. Rudyard Kipling, Salman Rushdie, and Fareed Zakaria all were born … Continue reading The Polyglot Archipelago

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

Wines from Hungary

I had a good time interviewing photographer and author Brian Neely some months back. His book, A Wine Filled Year, explores in photos and text the vineyards and wines and wine-making process from across the Hungarian countryside. The American Foreign Service Association was kind enough to post the exchange. I confess my opening is stilted (this … Continue reading Wines from Hungary

Chain Your Muse

I heard this gem last week, sound advice to anyone who bleeds ink: I keep my muse on a chain. And when I get 20 minutes I yank on the chain and say, 'C'mon, muse.' The man with the chain is Matthew Palmer, novelist and Foreign Service Officer, speaking at the American Foreign Service Association … Continue reading Chain Your Muse

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

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