The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 40

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NOVEMBER 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Ron Capps served in the U.S. military for 25 years, enlisting in
the National Guard in 1983 and serving on active duty for nine
years before returning to the Army Reserve. As a reservist, he
was recalled a number of times to active service, including work
with special operations forces in Central Africa, a combat tour in
Afghanistan in (2002-2003), and work as an international peace-
keeper in Darfur. Capps served as an FSO from 1994 to 2008.
Memoirs of a
Foreign Service Arabist
Richard B. Parker, Vellum, 2013,
$26, paperback, 290 pages.
In this book, published posthumously
as part of the Association for Diplomatic
Studies and Training’s Diplomats and
Diplomacy series, readers follow Ambas-
sador Richard Parker’s extraordinary 31-year Foreign Service
career.
Parker joined the Foreign Service in 1949, following military
service in World War II, and shortly began concentrating on the
Middle East. He went on to become renowned for his expertise
on the region and its culture and for his fluency in Arabic.
Throughout the memoir, Parker comments with the dry, acer-
bic wit for which he was known on thorny Middle East issues of
the time, and offers a first-person viewpoint and analysis of his-
toric events that occurred during his time in the Foreign Service.
FSO Richard Parker (1923–2011) served in Israel, Jordan,
Morocco and Egypt, in addition to assignments in Washington,
D.C. His career culminated with assignments as U.S. ambassa-
dor to Algeria (1975-1977), Lebanon (1977-1978) and Morocco
(1978-1979). Following retirement in 1980, he continued to share
his deep expertise in Arab culture—as a diplomat in residence
at the University of Virginia, as editor of the
Middle East Journal
and as the author of seven books on the region, including
North
Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns
(1987),
The Poli-
tics of Miscalculation in the Middle East
(1993),
The Six-Day War:
A Retrospective
(1996),
The October War
(2001) and
Uncle Sam in
Barbary: A Diplomatic History
(2004).
Ballet in the Cane Fields: Vignettes from
a Dominican Wanderlogue
Judith Ravin, Inkwater Press, 2014, $13.95/paperback,
$2.99/Kindle, $2.99/ePub, 254 pages.
Part travel diary, part cultural commentary, Judith Ravin’s
bilingual memoir covers her three years as an information officer
at Embassy Santo Domingo. Translated into Spanish by Ana E.
Martínez,
Ballet in the Cane Fields
reflects
the colorful society of the Dominican
people, their daily struggles and enduring
traditions.
Its short chapters recall everyday
occurrences, such as coping with the
seemingly endless rainy season, and more
somber moments, such as witnessing a
community come together after the death
of a local teenager. The varied people of the country are woven
throughout the vignettes: impoverished street vendors, chival-
rous young men, energetic hip-hop dancers and improvisational
taxi drivers all make appearances.
Ravin’s reflections on what has been called the “loudest place
on earth” give readers an in-depth glimpse into the Dominican
Republic with descriptive and refreshing language and imagery.
Spanish author Eleonora M. Smolensky comments that each of
Ravin’s stories gives “an added pleasure to daily life.”
Judith Ravin joined the Foreign Service in 2003 and has
served in Mexico, Cameroon, Sudan, the Dominican Republic
and Pakistan. She also spent many years living and working
abroad as an editor, translator and journalist in various coun-
tries. She is editor of the travel guide series
La Guía Pirelli Argen-
tina
(Turisticas, 1995) and
La Guía Pirelli Uruguay
(Turisticas,
1996) and co-author of
Traditional Tutsi
(Khartoum, 2010).
Accidental Patriot:
A Diplomat’s Journey
in Africa Rediscovering America
Kirsten Bauman, CreateSpace,
2014, $9.95/paperback,
$4.99/Kindle, 282 pages.
Accidental Patriot
tells the story of a col-
lision of two worlds: American suburbia
meets Africa. While on assignment at
Embassy Addis Ababa, Kirsten Bauman inadvertently redis-
covers the United States—the home country she long took
for granted. In this memoir, she describes life in Africa as told
through the true stories of the Ethiopians she has met, and
discusses how these experiences renewed her admiration for
America as a place of dreams for people the world over.
During her three years in Ethiopia, Bauman witnesses human
suffering from extreme poverty to ideologically fueled violence.
She works to reconcile the privileged existence she enjoys as a
U.S. diplomat with the struggling world outside her Ethiopian
home’s protective compound.
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