The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 44

On the Road with a
Foreign Service Officer
William F. Penoyar, self-published,
2014, $2.99, Kindle, 143 pages.
Much has been written about U.S. diplo-
macy, the operation of U.S. embassies,
the challenges and dangers faced by
FSOs and their families. Yet despite all
the work and hardship which the career entails, many people
are still attracted to this life. Why?
This memoir is William Penoyar’s answer to that question. As
he says in the introduction: “I became an FSO with USAID for
the opportunity to contribute to a better world and, to be honest,
for the adventure. I embraced a hope that I could make a posi-
tive difference in the lives of many people. Finally, the portfolio
of USAID projects in most countries: health, economic develop-
ment, agriculture and food security, democracy building and
environment ensured that I would not be bored.”
Here he recounts the entertaining, unpredictable and some-
times dangerous adventures he’s had with USAID in Mozam-
bique, Kosovo, Armenia and Iraq, as well as with the Hash House
Harriers running-walking-social clubs, from 2009 to 2013, and
urges colleagues associated with American embassies and USAID
to “get out of the diplomatic bubble” and “experience life more.”
William F. Penoyar retired from the Foreign Service after a
21-year career with USAID. Prior to the adventures related in this
book, he undertook many short-term visits to Central and East-
ern Europe, as well as Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. He
also worked for five years in Ukraine and three years in Zambia,
in addition to short-term stints in South Africa and Malawi.
Tales from the Boardroom
Drew Tanzman, CreateSpace, 2014,
$15.22, paperback, 310 pages.
In a year when Lou Gehrig’s Disease,
or ALS, gained prominence due to the
popular social media phenomenon,
the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” FSO Drew
Tanzman puts a face on the devastating
disease with
Tales from the Boardroom
his memoir that was published posthumously.
Readers follow Tanzman through significant life events like his
first foray into the corporate world, the birth of his children and
his devastating ALS diagnosis in 2013. His lessons range from the
charitable (“Focus where your influence can cause change”) to the
aspirational (“In order to succeed, be willing to accept failure”).
Numerous tributes to Tanzman are included throughout the
book and serve to underline the ideals of hard work, compas-
sion and courage that he continually demonstrated. “The effort
he [made] to keep connected with people is amazing. I was so
moved when he flew halfway around the world to come to my
wedding,” wrote Randy Lee, a friend and former colleague of
An athlete and avid surfer, he rode waves all over the world
for as long as he could, and relished downhill snow skiing right
up until his death. In an epilogue, Tanzman’s wife, Lara, related
that, never leaving any task unfinished, he had finished dictating
his memoir the day before his death.
Drew Tanzman died in February 2014 at the age of 56. After
an illustrious banking career and work as a consultant, teacher
and high school basketball coach, he joined the State Depart-
ment Foreign Service in 2009. He served in Montenegro and was
posted in Bangladesh when he received the ALS diagnosis that
ended his diplomatic career.
Escaping Iran: A True Account
of the Best Bad Idea
Mark Lijek, Deeds Publishing, 2014,
$19.95, paperback, 358 pages.
Escaping Iran
is a revised and expanded
version of Mark Lijek’s 2012 book,
Houseguests: AMemoir of Canadian Cour-
age and CIA Sorcery
(see the November
), the true story that inspired the
2013 Oscar winner, “Argo.”
Lijek notes that “this book began as a jumble of notes, written
in the middle of 1980” when he recognized a need to keep a fac-
tual account of his experience as one of the six Americans who
escaped capture during the seizure of Embassy Tehran in 1979.
His compelling account discusses why the “Canadian Six” were
in Iran, what went wrong and how they managed to escape the
embassy compound.
“This very readable account is at least as suspenseful as any
fictional drama would hope to be,” states William Daugherty,
one of the captives in the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis. Roger
Lucy, first secretary at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran from
1978 to 1980, adds, “While I was there at the time and thought I
knew the story, I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair as I
read this account.”
Mark Lijek, a Foreign Service officer from 1978 to 1996,
served in Tehran, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Warsaw, Frankfurt
and Washington, D.C. He now lives in the state of Washington
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