The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 39

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
NOVEMBER 2014
39
cal nostrums. The chapters are presented as briefings by one of
the authors on each topic, and anecdotes from their own careers
underline their advice in such areas as cross-cultural factors,
safety and security, crisis management, local employees and local
practice, and more.
Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy Jr. is vice provost for international
affairs at Texas Tech University. He joined the Foreign Service in
1978 and served in Zambia, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Togo, Camer-
oon and Nigeria, in addition to assignments in Washington, D.C.
He capped his career with ambassadorships in Guinea (1996-
1999) and Ethiopia (1999-2002).
Ambassador Gregory W. Engle joined the Foreign Service in
1981 after a tour as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea. He served
in Pakistan, Germany, Ethiopia, Cyprus, Malawi and South Africa
before being appointed ambassador to Togo in 2003. After serv-
ing as minister counselor for management affairs at Embassy
Baghdad in 2005, he retired in 2008.
MEMOIRS
The Kennan Diaries
George F. Kennan, edited by
Frank Costigliola, W.W. Norton & Co.,
2014, $39.95/hardcover, $19.24/Kindle,
768 pages.
This landmark collection, spanning 90 years
of U.S. history, presents the never-before-
published diaries of George F. Kennan (1904-
2005), America’s most famous diplomat.
On a hot July afternoon in 1953, George
F. Kennan descended the steps of the State Department building
as a newly retired man. His career had been tumultuous: early
postings in Eastern Europe, followed by Berlin in 1940–1941
and Moscow during the final year of World War II. In 1946, the
42-year-old Kennan authored the “Long Telegram,” a 5,500-word
indictment of the Kremlin that became mandatory reading in
Washington. And a year later, writing as Mr. X in
Foreign Affairs
,
he outlined “containment,” America’s guiding strategy in the Cold
War.
What should have been the pinnacle of his career—an
ambassadorship in Moscow in 1952—was sabotaged by Kennan
himself, deeply frustrated at his failure to ease the Cold War that
he had helped launch. But despite that setback, Kennan would
become the most respected foreign policy thinker of the 20th
century. Over the half-century following his resignation from the
Foreign Service, he advised presidents, gave influential lectures
and authored 20 books, winning two Pulitzer prizes and two
National Book awards in the process.
Through it all, Kennan kept a diary. Spanning a staggering 88
years and totaling over 8,000 pages, his journals brimwith keen
political andmoral insights, philosophical ruminations, poetry and
vivid descriptions. In these pages, we see Kennan rambling through
1920s Europe as a college student, despairing for capitalism in the
midst of the Depression, agonizing over the dilemmas of sex and
marriage, becoming enchanted and then horrified by Soviet Russia,
and developing into America’s foremost Soviet analyst.
But it is the later entries that reveal Kennan the gifted author,
wise counselor and biting critic of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. They
showcase this remarkable man at the height of his singular analytic
and expressive powers, before giving way, heartbreakingly, to some
of his most humanmoments, as his energy, memory and, finally,
his ability to write fade away.
Masterfully selected and annotated by historian Frank Costi-
gliola, the result is a work of profound intellectual and emotional
power. These diaries tell the complete narrative of Kennan’s life in
his own intimate and unflinching words and, through him, the arc
of world events in the 20th century.
Seriously Not All Right:
Five Wars in Ten Years
Ron Capps, Schaffner Press, 2013,
$25, hardcover, 255 pages.
A veteran of five wars, Ron Capps recounts
the hardships he endured while serving over-
seas fromAfghanistan and Iraq to Kosovo
and Darfur. His experience as a senior mili-
tary intelligence officer and as a Foreign Ser-
vice conflict observer is revealed in a wrenchingly honest account
of his struggles with post-traumatic stress and depression.
Capps explains some of the methods he used to cope with the
horrors he witnessed, including creation of a scale to evaluate
his well-being from day to day that ranged from “all right” to
“seriously not all right”—fromwhich the book’s title is taken. The
memoir chronicles his time as a peacekeeper and his long road
home after a miraculous return from the brink of suicide. (See
Douglas Koneff’s review in the June
FSJ
.)
As Capps explained at an AFSA Book Notes event on July 24,
he turned to education in his ongoing recovery. A founder of the
Veterans Writing Project in Washington, D.C., he teaches veter-
ans the skills to tell their own stories, so that they may, as he puts
it, “write their way home.”
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