Diplomatic Training

Sixteen years ago I spent ten months at the Foreign Service Institute training for my first diplomatic assignment to Saudi Arabia. This week I returned to campus with my sons, eight and ten, so they could begin their own indoctrination to the diplomatic life. They were enrolled in a course called Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation. … Continue reading Diplomatic Training

The Foreign Service v Zach Galifianakis

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) included this discussion of  Two Pumps for the Body Man in their new Digital Exclusives series. Unlike the great Between Two Ferns, the AFSA studio had only one bamboo to offer. Lean budget times, I guess. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9x6SVKdYqg AFSA writes: Foreign Service Officer Ben East brings to the table a satirical … Continue reading The Foreign Service v Zach Galifianakis

Bart Simpson, Foreign Service Officer

I was driving the boys to a wishing well Sunday morning when good fortune came my way: NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me was airing Not My Job. Talented people were supposed to do something without drawing on their talent. The talent in this case was Bill Oakley, who turned a Foreign Service exam cop … Continue reading Bart Simpson, Foreign Service Officer

Marine Security Guards at 70

The Marine Security Guard program this week celebrated 70 years protecting U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. Happy Fourth of July to the Ambassadors in Blue. Two books covering their service, one non-fiction, the other fiction: Greg Matos’ Shattered Glass—The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard... recounts the December 2004 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. … Continue reading Marine Security Guards at 70

Diplomatic Security

This trailer from the film America's Diplomats shows how our diplomatic security personnel train for the worst case scenario---from protests and threats to bombings and outright assaults on our missions overseas. Their storied bureau turned 100 this year. https://youtu.be/-QTzTP9vZRk Learn more about the daily grind of our DS personnel in Two Pumps for the Body … Continue reading Diplomatic Security

Peter Van Buren–We Meant Well

Van Buren's book stands shoulder-to-shoulder with many other great war books. The food is bad and the environment gritty. The Colonel’s in charge; body armor's strapped on; everybody piles into helos or Humvees to leave base. A young soldier, comrade torn by hot shrapnel, ignores the bloody gristle staining his cheek to stop the damn bleeding. … Continue reading Peter Van Buren–We Meant Well

Farce Within a Farce

This review captures the tenor and purpose of Two Pumps for the Body Man with incredible brevity and precision. I wish I knew more about the reader, who goes simply by "B". In some ways, that mystery (I know only that they also reviewed Soul Combat+ Ultimate Active Performance Over-Ear Headphones, Storm Black) adds to the satisfaction of having such an … Continue reading Farce Within a Farce

Foreign Service Writers

The March issue of the Foreign Service Journal covers the annual book fair and includes a call for FS-affiliated writers to submit news of forthcoming and recently published books for the November round up. Authors are also invited to submit work for review on this blog: I recently reviewed retired FSO James F. O'Callaghan's No Circuses. See below. From the FSJ … Continue reading Foreign Service Writers

Review: Foreign Service Fiction

Anyone who thinks diplomacy is about choosing the right fork at the right time should think again and read James O'Callaghan’s clever satire No Circuses (Tacchino Press, 2015). Forget preconceived notions of dinner-party diplomacy: keeping one’s elbows off the table, tangoing the rival into submission, and writing it up the next day in communiqués to DC. What diplomacy’s really about, in O’Callaghan’s world, … Continue reading Review: Foreign Service Fiction

Review: Shattered Glass–The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard

I picked up Greg Matos’ Shattered Glass—The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard with a narrow purpose. I wanted to read about the December 2004 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I wanted to know what it felt like to be the Marine standing Post when five heavily armed terrorists stormed our compound, killing … Continue reading Review: Shattered Glass–The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard