A resource of and for the Washington, D.C. foreign embassy community

Recommended Readings

The following books provide excellent reading on issues of diplomacy and other aspects of international affairs, as well as the advent of new information technologies in their conduct.

Periodicals on Foreign Affairs and Public Policy

A Bibliography on the Foreign Service (the U.S. State Department):

On Diplomacy:

The Ugly American, by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, first published in 1956, is a fictional account of Americans abroad--both as diplomats and as citizens--and an excellent treatment of cross-cultural issues. A product of the Cold War, but as worth reading today as it was when first written.

Witness to History, 1929 to 1969, by Charles Bohlen, is a sizable but entertaining autobiographical account by one of America's ambassadors to the Soviet Union.

215 Days in the Life of an American Ambassador, by Martin Herz, is another autobiographical account, this time by an American ambassador to Bulgaria.

Welcome Home : Who Are You? : Tales of a Foreign Service Family, by Gene Schmiel, is a series of vignettes chronicling the author and his family's experiences in the Foreign Service.


Polish Military Office

Polish Military Office

On Espionage:

The late Graham Greene served in the British intelligence service during World War II, and many of his novels capture the bleaker side of the life of an intelligence officer, in both "peacetime" and war.

  • The Quiet American - on early American involvement in the wars in Southeast Asia
  • Our Man in Havana - a Cold War farce, as a vacuum cleaner salesman is recruited to spy for his country
  • The Comedians - an account of life in Haiti under the Duvalier ("Papa Doc") government
  • The Third Man - intrigue in post-World War II Vienna

Secret Messages : Codebreaking and American Diplomacy, 1930-1945, by David J. Alvarez, documents the impact of decoded radio messages (signals intelligence) upon American foreign policy and strategy from 1930 to 1945.

On Information Technologies and International Relations:

Two books by Ithiel De Sola Pool were excellent forecasts of the changes we see taking place today:

Technologies Without Boundaries was compiled from writings by Pool prior to his death in 1984. An excerpt:

"It has often been urged that terminals on embassy staff desks would enable a typed message to appear immediately in the terminal of any similar office in Washington. Such a message facility would have the flexibility and instantaneity of the telephone but be cheap enough to be used freely. It would bring the embassy staffs into the same situation as their fellow bureaucrats back home in the United States, who have telephones at hand with which they can talk to anyone they wish, without concern about the cost or availability of lines. Yet this suggestions meets fierce resistance on the grounds that it will prevent effective control and coordination by the ambassador of his team. Anyone in the field would be free to reach anyone in Washington. Back home, this situation does not appear to get out of hand; reasonable norms control whom people actually call directly. But in the foreign services, telecommunication is feared as an instrument of decentralization that reduces hierarchic control." (p. 70)


Additional Recommendations

The following books were suggested by Meridian International and the Smithsonian Associates Program to complement their course on "The Ambassadors: New Diplomacy in a New World:"

* Institute for the Study of Diplomacy publications may also be ordered by telephoning (202) 965-5735.