The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2017 63 From Lenin’s defeat of the Kerensky government in Russia following WorldWar I to the Hamas victory over the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza strip in 2007, there have been a host of examples where this has been the case. More attention to what it takes to consolidate power on behalf of truly democratic forces wouldmake Phil- lips’ premise stronger. I keep thinking, as Phillips once did, that the lessons of Vietnam are getting stale. And then I look at Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan—or, closer to home, Venezuela and Colombia—and realize they are more important than ever. These lessons may be difficult to heed at a time when hard power is the craze, but at least no one will be able to say: “You never told us how this was going to end.” Keith Mines is a Senior FSO currently serving as director of Andean affairs in the State De- partment. His forthcoming book , Boots on the Ground, Wingtips in the Palace: How a Blend of Hard and Soft Power Makes America Safer , will be published in the spring of 2018. A Diplomat’s Life Global Adventures on Less-Traveled Roads: A Foreign Service Memoir James R. Bullington, CreateSpace, 2017, $19.95/ paperback, 334 pages. Reviewed By David Passage Anyone with Foreign Service ties will effortlessly identify with this book. Even without a Foreign Service connection, those who have spent time in faraway places with strange-sounding names (a tip of the hat to an earlier inveterate traveler and American jurist, the late Justice William O. Douglas) will also see much of themselves in retired U.S. Ambas- sador JimBullington’s wonderful memoir. Immensely readable, well-crafted and engagingly written, Global Adventures immediately draws one in. Starting from the author’s self-description as a “redneck hillbilly” from the ochre soil of Alabama and the revelation that native curiosity led him, early on, to send away for an analysis of his ancestry whereby he learned that 2.8 percent of his DNA came fromNeander- thals—this memoir is intriguing. JimBullington lived a Huckleberry Finn childhood, but was determined to explore the wider world, becoming the first mem- ber of his family to go to college via a co-op program at Auburn University. While there, he had a chance encounter with a Foreign Service legend, Ambassador Clare Timberlake, that led him to the Foreign Service—and against all odds (namely the dominance of the Ivy League-educated East and West Coast elites in the Ser- vice), he won a place in 1962. His career track was fairly standard for an FSO of his time: an initial stint in the department as a desk officer for the Central Treaty Organization, followed by an assignment to Vietnam. (During the war, one-quarter of the Foreign Service was assigned to Embassy Saigon, our consulates or to the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Develop- ment Support program there.) Next came postings toThailand, Burma, Chad, Benin and Burundi—the latter two as ambassador—and various jobs in the department, including as head of the Senior Seminar. Then followed post- Foreign Service jobs as “ForeignMinister for Dallas, Texas”; a detour into academia at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia; Peace Corps director in Niger; and, finally, a recall to service to facilitate the successful resolution of a decades-old internal conflict in Senegal. What makes this memoir truly exceptional, however, is not somuch the career that followed his initial assignment to Vietnam, but his riveting account of developments in that country as the war progressed (events there occupy nearly one-third of the book). This culminated in his near-capture by the North Vietnam- ese Army in Hue during the Tet offensive of 1968 and his escape, disguised as a Catholic priest in full clerical garb, aided by a resident French priest. While working in Hue, he fell in love with a Foreign Service National employee (a receptionist and translator at U.S. Con- sulate Hue), Than-trong Tuy-Cam, who ultimately became his wife and insepara- ble companion. This memoir, then, is both a narrative of a Foreign Service life and an unforgettable andmoving love story describing the devotion a couple can have for each other and the symbiotic relation- ship they create. Ambassador Bullington’s memoir is a very easy-to-read and fast-paced descrip- tion of Foreign Service life—the work we do, the perils that attend it, the risks we run, the accomplishments we can achieve for our country and the personal satisfac- tion we derive. n David Passage, who retired after a 33-year Foreign Service career, served as U.S. ambas- sador to Botswana from 1990 to 1993. What makes this memoir truly exceptional is the author’s riveting account of developments in Vietnam as the war progressed.