The Foreign Service Journal - November 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2017 13 TALKING POINTS Foreign Ambassadors Share Book Choices T here is no shortage of things travel- ers need to know before visiting a foreign country, from the best places to eat to whether it is safe to take a taxi. But along with all the practical con- siderations, there is a sense of cultural understanding that is hard to quantify. With this in mind, Condé Nast Traveler asked 22 ambassadors to the United States to recommend one book that travelers should read before visiting their home country. The books are not travel guides, but rather offer insight into the country and its heritage. For example, Kurban Said’s Ali and Nino (Verlag E.P. Tal & Co., 1937), sug- gested by the Azerbaijani ambassador to the United States, is the love story of a young Muslim man and a Georgian princess who has been brought up in the Christian tradition, as they navigate life in Baku at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Navtej Sarna, the Indian ambassador to the United States, recommends Free- dom at Midnight (Simon & Schuster, 1975), which describes events around Indian independence and partition in 1947-1948; while Tim Groser, from New Zealand, recommends The Whale Rider (Harcourt, 2003), a novel for young peo- ple featuring Maori history and legends woven into a modern-day narrative. Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi sug- gests that visitors to Finland should familiarize themselves with a series of children’s books by Tove Jansson about the Moomins, a family of Finnish trolls who have adventures in the snowy mountains; and Jamaican Ambassador Audrey Marks recommends Selected Poems by Louise Bennett (Sangster’s Book Stores Limited, 1982) as a way to understand Jamaican folklore, history and language. The list also includes contributions from ambassadors to the United States from Ireland, Norway and Malta, among others. State Department Sounding Board Shuttered O n Aug. 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff announced that the Sounding Board, an internal intranet State Department employee forum would be shut down on Aug. 31. The announcement also stated that the content of the forum would not be archived, with the result that more than W ith this edition of the Journal , we are expanding the Site of the Month to include podcasts of interest to Foreign Service readers. We’re going to start with two relatively new podcasts—one for in-depth reporting on top stories and the other for in-depth interviews with key players in foreign affairs. The daily podcast from The New York Times , aptly called The Daily , is a 20-minute deep dive into the stories of the day. Host Michael Barbaro interviews fellow NYT journalists, as well as some of the people who figure prominently in those stories, spending about 15 minutes on one segment, and the last few minutes on “what else you need to know today.” Recent topics include: Nicholas Kristof’s visit to North Korea, the Las Vegas mass shooting, hurricane response, sexual harassment in Hollywood, the Clean Power Plan roll-back and the slaughter of Rohingya in Myanmar. This podcast is available for download every weekday morning between 5 and 6 a.m. For a weekly dose of “candid, in-depth conversations about global politics with those who are helping shape it,” veteran journalist Susan Glasser’s The Global Politico is a must-listen. She interviews some of the most interesting and significant actors on the international stage. Recent interviewees include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Brookings President (and former State Department Deputy Sec- retary) Strobe Talbott, Ambassador (ret.) Chris Hill and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. With an even-handed non-partisan approach, Glasser elicits informative and fascinating insights from her guests. This podcast is available for download every Mon- day morning. PODCASTS OF THE MONTH: The Daily and The Global Politico and