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Embassies Under Siege: Personal Accounts by Diplomats on the Front Line (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy) Hardcover – September, 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In nine superb essays in this fascinating book-recounting grave incidents at our embassies in Uganda, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, San Salvador, Kuwait, Liberia, and Somalia-resourceful diplomats provide numerous suggestions on how to improve security for State Department employees abroad. They painstakingly recount tragedies that befell them and the many obstacles they had to overcome both during and after each incident. In several instances, they also relate how indigenous employees paid heavily for their association with U.S. interests. In response to several tragic events, the State Department embarked on a massive construction effort to turn U.S. embassies into fortresses for increasingly cautious diplomats. Although the essays here do not purport to answer why American embassies are under siege or why there is growing anti-Americanism abroad, these questions are also important. Still, this book is an excellent way to better understand the daily dangers in the lives of U.S. Foreign Service officers. Recommended.
Joseph A. Kechichian, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, Cal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Brassey's US; First Edition edition (September 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574880225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574880229
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Embassies Under Siege" tells the story of some of the greatest tragedies and dramas of modern diplomacy. Told by Americans who experienced shattering events, these first-hand accounts speak of courage, terror, and blunders as ordinary foreign service officers attempt to cope with extraordinary circumstances. The immediacy of the writing, brevity of the chapters, and the harrowing reality of the assassinations, bombings and hostage-takings make this a quick read. Yet you will ponder the lessons of "Embassies Under Siege" long after you've finished the book. A must-read for anyone interested in foreign affairs and the challenges of diplomacy in developing countries.
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Format: Hardcover
The premises of this book are that during the late 70" and 80's budget cuts decreased the amount of money the State Department could spend on the embassy program. The cuts they chose to make were to the site security forces and the actual compound security equipment. The book also gives the reader a nice little run down of all the attaches they have faced over the past 25 years.
The most interesting parts of the book were the known safety issues that were brought up by embassy staff, but could not be corrected due to funding problems. Then to correlate these safety issues with the events that have taken place or the past few years, it is chilling to see the mistakes that were made. Overall this is an interesting book.
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Format: Hardcover
Having served in a security role as a Marine Security Guard with the Department of State, I found this book fasinating! It really shows in detail the circumstances surrounding several different situations that occured at embassies throughout the world. It also shows our Diplomats at their finest. The Department of State is not usually looked upon as a "macho" agency in the US Government. This book also shows the close relationship between the US Marine Corps and the Department of State. A very good book for aspiring Diplomats to read concerning the other side of Diplomacy!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Embassies At War" can be a subtitle for some of the chapters in this book. I can only speak of my experience as a member of the US Embassy in El Salvador during the civil war there. I served with the USMILGROUP as the senior advisor to the National Training Center at La Union during 1991-1992. Here are some of my observations on comments made by Ambassador William Walker in his chapter on the War in El Salvador.

- Ambassador Walker's assertation that the FMLN policy was not to target the Americans is partially true. A splinter faction of the FMLN declared "Kill Americans" week in June of 1985 and killed four US Marines who were Embassy guards and an American civilian. Allegedly, within a week of the killings Delta Force with US Rangers in support visited this group's base camp and killed over 100 of them. Soon afterwards, the FMLN stated officially they were not out to kill Americans anymore. Afterall, the last thing they needed was for the 82d Airborne Division to drop in on their little war. However, "Kill Americans" week was still an annual event. From time to time they took opportunities to kill Americans and sometimes they were successful.

- The war had come to a stand off by 1987 for two reasons. The US military aid and advisory effort really had its effect in making the Salvadorean Armed Forces (ESAF) more combat effective and they had the FMLN outgunned. Until that point in the war, the FMLN had been armed with hand me down weapons provided from the Sandinistas and American made weapons provided by their socialist Vietnamese friends from stocks we left behind there in 1975.
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