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Inside a U.S. Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America Paperback – August 31, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Being curious about what the Public Diplomacy section does, I was a little confused about finding the term "Public Diplomacy" in only one place in the book (in the "Embassy Flow Chart") and instead finding a profile of a "Public Affairs Officer.Read more ›
The book is constructed as a series of short essays by foreign service personnel. Part 1 has them describing what they actually do, from Ambassador (Colombia) and Deputy Chief of Mission (Cyprus) down to Environmental Officer (Cote d'Ivoire) Junior Officer (South Africa) and even Marine Security Guard (Armenia).
More specifically, Part 2 is set up as day-in-the-life diaries from people like a Consular Officer (visiting Americans in a jail in the Phillipines), USAID Mission Director (economic development meetings in Mongolia), and even spouse (packing up and saying goodbye from yet another move, this time from Armenia).
The tone overall is positive without being pollyannish (an FS employee based in Nigeria gripes about how post-9/11 security scanning of his mail delays it and turns it "crispy). They even discuss the dark side of the job: the stories in Part 3 ("Tales from the Field") include in it the story of the kidnapping and death of Ambassador Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979, the bombing of the Kenya and Tanzania embassies in 1998, and, of course, the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1980.
If you're considering joining the US Foreign Service (if you pass their tests, which are next set to begin in April 2004) or just want to know what embassy people do other than push cookies, this is a very useful and interesting book.
The book has its share of heroes -- from the guy who bucks the system to expose a brutal Latin American junta to the Ambassador who puts his body between an angry mob and some terrified gypsies. But to its credit, it also deals with the mundane -- giving voice to those who make the appointments, procure the pencils, and ensure the embassy cars run on time. Tight editing weaves these disparate accounts into a whole that's compelling. One gets the sense that these are folks who signed onto public service because they want to do more with their lives than chase a buck. There's plenty of adventure in their lives, but not always glamor.
One small quibble -- the portrait of a junior officer serving as the deputy spokesperson of a major embassy struck me as not very representative of the experience of most junior officers, who are more often assigned to visa work for their first couple of jobs. That said, I still found her story interesting. On balance, I found this to be a very educational and entertaining book that deserves to be widely read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very interesting book, providing an illuminating look into life abroad as a Foreign Service Officer. Many recommend it as a must read before taking the oral assessment. Read morePublished 13 days ago by cool3221
Not a boring hiring and, and a good look into Embassy work. If you are interested in a St. Depot. Career this is a must read; otherwise, it may not be the most enthralling book out... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Samuel Rioux
I read this book and realized that becoming a foreign officer in the State Dept was NOT for me. Thank you for saving me from a life of boredom, drudgery, and unappreciated work!Published 23 months ago by Life to the Full
This book shows the diversity of work and people within the State Department quite well and is an easy, fun read.Published on January 2, 2014 by Sean T.
This is a great book that has a lot of experiences and different people working in US embassys. I would definitely recommend this to people interest in being a foreign service... Read morePublished on September 3, 2013 by Brigitta E Szocs
Very interesting read with an insider view into the industry. Highly recommend for anyone interested in pursuing a career with the Department of State and a life as a Foreign... Read morePublished on May 18, 2013 by hlee