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Onstage, he is a combination of preacher, comedian, salesman, life-hacker, professor and inspirational speaker. Steves told us, that day, how to pack our entire lives into a single bag measuring 9 by 22 by 14 inches. The back door, by contrast, led to revelations. He showed us impossibly enticing photos: cobblestone piazzas teeming with fruit stalls, quirky wooden hotels among wildflowers in the Alps, vast arsenals of multicolored cheese.

He made travel seem less like a luxury than a necessary exploration of the self, a civic responsibility, a basic courtesy to your fellow humans. It seemed almost unreasonable not to go. Above all, Steves told us, do not be afraid. The people of the world are wonderful, and the planet we share is spectacular.

But the only way to really understand that is to go and see it for yourself. So go. My girlfriend and I left the room converts to the gospel of Rick Steves. We bought his book and highlighted it to near-meaninglessness.

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We started mapping itineraries, squirreling away money, asking relatives for donations. In probably the worst phone call of my life, my rancher grandfather expressed shock and dismay that I would ask him to support this meaningless overseas lark. Eventually, over many months, we scraped together just enough to buy plane tickets and order minimalist Steves-approved supplies, including a travel towel so thin and nonabsorbent that it seemed to just push the moisture around your skin until you forgot you were wet.

We packed exactly as Steves taught us: T-shirts rolled into space-saving noodles, just enough clothes to get us from one hotel laundry session to the next. Then, for the first time in our lives, we left North America. When I opened it recently, the reality of that long-ago trip hissed out with fresh urgency. My year-old self recorded everything. On our first day in Europe, we bought imported Austrian apples with fat, heavy English coins and saw a woman stumble on a staircase, breaking an entire bag of newly bought china.

We arrived at our first hostel, the Y. As we tried to make out the names of the dead, songbirds sang strenuously in the trees all around us. This juxtaposition — old death, new life — blew my jet-lagged American mind. Reality fills its gaps. That, more or less, was the theme of the trip.

For six weeks, we followed the Steves game plan. We shared squalid bunks with other young travelers from Denmark, Australia, Canada and Japan. In the stately public parks of Paris, we ate rotisserie chickens with our bare hands. One stifling afternoon at the Colosseum in Rome, we watched a worker slam his ladder against the edge of an arch and break off some ancient bricks. He looked over at us, looked down at the bricks, kicked dirt over them and kept working.

Once, I left my underwear on a Mediterranean beach overnight and, since I could not afford to lose a pair, had to go back and pick it up the next day, in full view of all the sunbathers. Wherever we went, Rick Steves was with us. We seemed to have entered the world of his slides: the fruit markets and overnight trains, the sunny French river under the ancient Roman aqueduct. Sometimes our European hosts, with the quiet pride of someone who once met Elvis, told us stories about Steves.

He was a gentleman, they said, a truly good man, and he always came in person to check out their hotels, and he never failed to ask them how their children were doing.

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By the end of our trip, we were completely broke. We flew home looking ragged, shaggy, weather-beaten and exhausted. But of course Steves was right: Our lives were never the same. We were still young Americans, but we felt liberated and empowered, like true citizens of the world. The most important things we learned all had to do with home. As the English writer G. I began to realize how silly and narrow our notion of exceptionalism is — this impulse to consider ourselves somehow immune to the forces that shape the rest of the world.

The environment I grew up in, with its malls and freeways, its fantasies of heroic individualism, began to seem unnatural. I started to sense how much reality exists elsewhere in the world — not just in a theoretical sense, in books and movies, but with the full urgent weight of the real. And not just in Europe but on every other continent, all the time, forever. I began to realize how much I still had to learn before I could pretend to understand anything. Some people get there themselves, or their communities help them. But I needed him, and I am eternally glad I was dragged that day to see him talk.

Steves answered his front door slightly distracted. I had come in the middle of his breakfast preparations. He was stirring a block of frozen orange juice into a pitcher of water. This was April , exactly 20 years after my first trip to Europe. I had come to see Steves in the most exotic place possible: his home. He lives just north of Seattle, in a town so rainy it has a free umbrella-share program. There is nothing particularly exotic about the house itself. It has beige carpeting, professionally trimmed shrubs and a back deck with a hot tub. What was exotic was simply that Steves was there.

He had just returned from his frenetic speaking tour of the United States and would be leaving almost immediately on his annual trip to Europe. For now, he was making breakfast: frozen blueberries, Kashi cereal, O. But of course, he could not. Steves is gone too much, yo-yoing between the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest and the sun-baked cathedrals of Europe. Every year, no matter what else is going on, Steves spends at least four months practicing the kind of travel he has preached for odd years: hauling his backpack up narrow staircases in cheap hotels, washing his clothes in sinks, improvising picnics.

He is now 63, and he could afford to retire many times over. Among his colleagues, Steves is a notorious workaholic. On long car rides, he sits in the back seat and types op-eds on his laptop. His relentless hands-on control of every aspect of his business is what has distinguished the Rick Steves brand. It is also, obviously, exhausting — if not for Steves, then at least for the people around him. He has two children, now grown, and for much of their childhoods, Steves was gone.

He was building his company, changing the world. For very long stretches, his wife was forced to be a single mother.


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She and Steves divorced in after 25 years of marriage. Every summer, when the family joined Steves in Europe, his pace hardly slackened: They would cover major cities in 48 hours, blitzing through huge museums back to back. The kids complained so much, on one trip, that Steves finally snapped — if they were so miserable, he said, they could just go sit in the hotel room all day and play video games.

They remember this day as heaven. One year, while Steves was away, the children converted to Catholicism. His son, Andy Steves, eventually went into the family business: He now works as a tour guide and even published a European guidebook. Steves is fully aware that his obsessive work ethic is unusual.

He admits that he has regrets. But he cannot make himself stop. He has the fervor of the true evangelist: The more people he meets, the more cities he visits, the more lives he might change.

Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel around the World

At one point, as we talked, he pulled out the itinerary for his coming trip — from Sicily to Iceland, with no down time whatsoever. Just looking at it made him giddy. What would I do if I stayed home? Not much. Nothing I would remember. In his house, Steves offered up a little show and tell. He pointed out an antique silver cigarette lighter shaped like the Space Needle. He sat down at his baby grand piano and lost himself, for a few happy minutes, playing Scarlatti. He took me to a room filled with books and reached up to a very high shelf. When Steves was 13, he decided, for no apparent reason, to conduct a deep statistical analysis of the Billboard pop charts.

The lines were multicolored and interwoven — it looked like the subway map of some fantastical foreign city. You could see, at a glance, the rising and falling fortunes of the Beatles red and Creedence Clearwater Revival black and Elvis Presley dots and dashes. Steves kept this up for three years, taping together many pieces of graph paper, and in the end he summarized the data in an authoritative-looking table that he typed on the family typewriter. This is what was in that binder: a systematic breakdown of the most successful bands from to , as determined by the objective statistics of an analytical adolescent weirdo.

Steves laughed. It was ridiculous. But it was also a perfect window into his mind. Even at 13, a powerful energy was coiled inside him — an unusual combination of obsession and precision, just waiting for some worthwhile project to burst out in. And that, coincidentally, was exactly when he found it: the project of his life. In the summer of , when Steves was 14, his parents took him to Europe. They owned a business tuning and importing pianos, and they wanted to see factories firsthand.

Steves approached this first trip abroad with the same meticulous energy he brought to his Billboard graphs. As he traveled around the continent, he recorded the essential data of his journey on the backs of postcards: locations, activities, weather, expenses. One day, Steves spent 40 cents on fishing gear. Another, he met a year-old man who had witnessed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. To keep everything in order, Steves numbered the postcards sequentially.

He still has them all packed lovingly into an old wooden box. On that same formative trip, the Steves family visited relatives in Norway. They happened to be there in July , when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Europe was a crash course in cultural relativity. In a park in Oslo, he had an epiphany: The foreign humans around him, he realized, were leading existences every bit as rich and full as his own. That first trip set the course for everything that followed. When Steves was 18, he went back to Europe without his parents. Soon, life in America became a series of interludes between travel.

He taught piano to earn money, then stretched that money as far as he possibly could, sleeping on church pews and park benches, in empty barns and construction zones, from Western Europe to Afghanistan. He turned his cheapness into a science. Instead of paying for a hotel room in a city, Steves would use his Railpass and sleep on a train for the night — four hours out, four hours back.

He would stuff himself on free breakfast bread, then try to eat as little as possible for the rest of the day. Naturally, he recorded all this, and today he has an impressive archive of old travel journals. Their pages preserve, in tiny handwriting, shadowy young dissidents in Moscow, diarrhea in Bulgaria, revolution in Nicaragua. In his 20s, Steves brought his wide-roaming wisdom back to the United States.

He started to supplement his piano teaching with travel seminars. His signature class, European Travel Cheap, ran for six hours. Steves could have talked longer than that, but it struck him as impractical for his students.


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In Europe, he rented a nine-seat minibus and started to lead small tours. Eventually, his seminars and tour notes morphed into his books. It had no ISBN and looked so amateurish that bookstores assumed it was an early review copy. This was the birth of the Rick Steves empire. Rick Steves both is and is not his TV persona. Offscreen, he allows himself to be much more explicitly political. He has the passion of the autodidact. Growing up, Steves led a relatively sheltered existence: He was a white, comfortable, middle-class baby boomer in a white, comfortable, middle-class pocket of America.

Travel did for him what he promises it will do for everyone else: It put him in contact with other realities. He saw desperate poverty in Iran and became obsessed with economic injustice. He studied the war industry and colonial exploitation. In the early days, Steves injected political lessons into his European tours. Sometimes he would arrive in a city with no hotel reservations, just to make his privileged customers feel the anxiety of homelessness.

In Munich, he would set up camp in an infamous hippie circus tent, among all the countercultural wanderers of Europe. Today, Steves is more strategic. His most powerful tool, he realizes, is his broad appeal. He has an uncanny knack for making serious criticism feel gentle and friendly. But other nations have some pretty good ideas too. Steves learned this strategy, he said, from his early days running tours, living with the same people for weeks at a time.

Survival required being pleasant. Instead, he pointed out different perspectives with a smile. He became fluent in the needs of American tourists. I want to preach to organizations that need to hear this, so I need to compromise a little bit so the gatekeepers let it through to their world. This balancing act has become increasingly difficult over the past two decades, in a world of terrorism, war, nationalism and metastasizing partisanship.

After the Sept. They canceled tours and cut back budgets. Steves, however, remained defiantly optimistic. He promised his staff that there would be no cuts, no layoffs and no shift in message. He insisted that a world in crisis needed travel more, not less. Soon the shock of Sept. In his hometown, Steves caused a controversy when he walked around removing rows of American flags that had been set up in support of the war. It was, he argued, an act of patriotism: The flag is meant to represent all Americans, not just war supporters.

Lately, Steves concedes, his political message has begun to take over his teaching. Some moments in the book verge on un-American. Occasionally, despite his best efforts, Steves still ruffles feathers. After one recent speech in the Deep South, event organizers refused to pay Steves — their conservative sponsors, he learned, considered his message a form of liberal propaganda. In recent years, Steves has become a happy warrior for an unlikely cause: the legalization of marijuana.

He first tried the drug in Afghanistan, in the s, in the name of cultural immersion, and he was fascinated by its effect on his mind. In his headquarters you will find a poster of the Mona Lisa holding a gargantuan spliff. On a shelf in his living room, right there among all the European knickknacks, Steves displays a sizable bong. Sometimes, fans urge Steves to run for office. To stay in a family-owned hotel in Bulgaria is to strengthen global democracy; to pack light is to break the iron logic of consumerism; to ride a train across Europe is to challenge the fossil-fuel industry.

Travel, to Steves, is not some frivolous luxury — it is an engine for improving humankind, for connecting people and removing their prejudices, for knocking distant cultures together to make unlikely sparks of joy and insight. When people tell Steves to stay out of politics, to stick to travel, he can only laugh. When I want to do something, I can do it. Steves is deeply indifferent to creature comforts. When I visited him, the back seat of his car was covered with a greenish slime, practically disintegrating, because of a mysterious leak.

He just cracked the windows to try to dry it out. Steves prefers to spend his money on his favorite causes. His activism can be quirky and impulsive. This, pointedly, was how much money he would get back from President George W. Last year, during a chat with one of the national leaders of the Lutheran Church, Steves wondered how much it would cost to send every single Lutheran congregation in the United States a DVD of his recent TV special about Martin Luther. In the s, working in partnership with the Y. The plan was to take that money out of the banking system and let it do a few decades of social good, at which point Steves could sell the buildings to fund his retirement.

Eventually he worked his way up to buying a whole unit apartment complex — and then he donated it outright to the Y. The mothers, he said, needed it more than he would. Steves is obsessed with the problem of poverty and amazed at our perpetual misunderstanding of it. This needs to be talked about.

I can do it, and I can get away with it. I could retire now. Once the travel market finally recovered, some years after Sept. By taking a principled stand, Steves flourished. Today, his chipper voice is reaching more Americans than ever. One night, in his living room, Steves pulled out a plain black notebook. This, however, was something else entirely — a record of a very different kind of journey. For the next 20 minutes, Steves would read me koans about the glories of being stoned.

He would get baked, open up to somewhere in the middle and jot down whatever he happened to be thinking — deep or shallow, silly or angry. There is no chronology; on every page, axioms from many different decades commingle. The entries covered an impressively wide territory. I found myself wondering, for the thousandth time: Who does this? What kind of mind not only thinks of such a project but actually follows through with it, decade after decade after decade? As Steves read, he interrupted himself again and again with great shouting honks of laughter, and I cackled right along with him.

Then, suddenly, with almost no transition, we would find ourselves deep in earnest conversation about the nature of true happiness or the dangers of ambition. And then we would suddenly be cackling again. And of course there were many, many more descriptions of getting high itself. At some point, he looked up from the journal. Because this is me. He shook his head. An earlier version of this article misstated the size of a bus Steves used in his early tours through Europe. It was a nine-seat minibus, not a nine-foot minibus.

When my wife and I were married, my mother-in-law told us she had a special gift for us. In Sweden, on an island, in the forest. As with all magical places, getting to the island in Sweden requires some effort particularly as my wife, son and I live in Los Angeles.

After the plane, the train and a car ride to the countryside, a boat ferries us across the lake from the mainland. There are only a handful of cottages — with no electricity or running water — on the island. Distances walking in the forest are hard to determine. You spend so much time walking over, under and around branches, brush and fallen trees that a simple hike can quickly become a disorienting journey. There are no straight lines in a forest. In Sweden, mushrooms are like gold.

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Specifically chanterelle mushrooms. Aside from their high cost and their subtle earthy flavor cooked in butter and served on toast , their value is enhanced by how late in the season they grow. So Swedes are extremely protective of their chanterelle patches. The day my mother-in-law took us for our first walk, everything seemed slow and quiet besides the buzz of the mosquitoes. I listened to her tell stories of playing here as a child; exploring it made me feel young, and nostalgic for a past I had never lived.

I marched behind my wife and was careful when stepping over fallen trees or catching branches she bent back to allow me to pass. Some mushrooms you can eat, and some can make you very sick. Animals know this, and people who spend lots of time in the forest know this. My mother-in-law knows.

She took us to a clearing among some trees, looked around a bit, then stopped and bent down. She said she had given each of her children a patch in the forest where she found that mushrooms consistently grew each year. Tell your fellow americans that you plan to cross the United States by train, and their reactions will range from amusement at your spellbinding eccentricity to naked horror that they, through some fatal social miscalculation, have become acquainted with a person who would plan to cross the United States by train. Depending how you slice it — time or money — there are either 61 or immediate reasons not to travel by Amtrak trains from New York City to Los Angeles.

Covering the interjacent 2, Because of this ability to effectively teleport between locations, 21st-century Americans have become flippant about transcontinental voyaging. To truly appreciate the size of the landmass the third-largest country in the world by land area and the variety of its terrain rain forests, deserts, prairies, Margaritaville, etc.

Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived. As I quickly learned, there are no passenger rail routes that cross the entire United States in a single trip, nor are there likely to be any soon.

While the trip planner cannot identify the train station nearest to an address, or even a city, it can tell you the name of the city you have already typed into its search bar, provided there is an Amtrak train station there. What Amtrak has managed to cram into this minuscule space is impressive: a fold-down sink, two cushioned benches that convert to a bed, a second premade bed that lowers from the ceiling, a tiny foldout table with an inset of alternating colored squares for checkers or chess, a coat hook, a luggage cubby, a large picture window and the largest variety of not-quite-matching shades of dark blue upholstery fabrics ever assembled.

There is even a small metal toilet covered with a puce-colored lid, which invites the brainteaser: Is it more luxurious to have a private toilet inches away from your sleeping area, or a shared toilet elsewhere? To prevent occupants from rolling off their inch-wide mattresses the same width as a standard casket and falling several feet to the floor, stowed beneath the mattress of every upper bunk is a kind of net of seatbelts that hooks with grim determination into the ceiling.

Once on the bed, I subjected my body to a series of Cirque du Soleil-inspired experiments to confirm that this safety web would indeed hold my weight, were I to roll unconsciously into it at 2 a. I tested the strength of the straps with one leg. I rolled from the wall into the net, flopping my limbs. I placed each hand on a segment of net and pushed against it with the full force of my upper body, something that I had never done in my sleep but that now seemed possible or even probable. It seemed secure. The freedom to move about in a train evokes an illicit, almost danger-courting autonomy.

The instructions given by conductors and attendants were not so much formulaic as they were desperately obvious — a black comic litany of bare-minimum survival tips. On trains, passengers are treated as individuals even more powerful than adults: independent teenagers who just want to smoke.

Amtrak knows you want to smoke. Amtrak knows you love to smoke. In winter, the Lake Shore Limited experiences just 90 minutes of daylight before darkness descends for a majority of its journey west to Chicago. The first leg of the trip follows the Hudson River, revealing glimpses of hidden islands and idyllic ruins — like the crumbling remains of a fanciful 20th-century castle built by an arms dealer in need of an out-of-the-way place to stash his stores of live ammunition, some of which eventually exploded, creating the crumbling remains.

Incidental though the condescension may be, the result is an oversimplified discussion of ways to manage leaving the workforce. The worksheets and exercises provided may be the most useful component. There was a problem adding your email address. Please try again. Be the first to discover new talent! Each week, our editors select the one author and one book they believe to be most worthy of your attention and highlight them in our Pro Connect email alert. Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. By clicking on "Submit" you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Email Newsletter. Log In. There you will find all the books in this edition, as well as the volumes that have been featured in previous years www. Below is our annotated list of some of the books written, edited or translated by Foreign Service personnel and family members in and This is not a definitive record of works by FS authors; we rely on the authors themselves to bring their books to our attention.

Our list contains a weighty and wide-ranging history section, a solid policy and issues section, an array of memoirs, a rich variety of fiction, three photography books and an eclectic potpourri on topics ranging from cooking and long-distance management of real estate to Yemeni silversmiths and microcontroller projects.

As has been the case for a decade, a significant portion of the titles are self-published. In acknowledgement of this, we have included a sidebar spotlighting some of the recent trends in this new and dynamic corner of the publishing world. Our primary purpose in compiling this list each year is to celebrate the wealth of literary talent within the Foreign Service community, and to give our readers the opportunity to support colleagues by sampling their wares.

Each entry contains full publication data along with a short commentary. Light refreshments will be available. For the few books that cannot be ordered through Amazon, we have provided alternative links or, when the book is not available online, the necessary contact information. Both sites continue to attract many visitors today, thanks to their salubrious climate and leisurely way of life. Much has changed over the years, but both places retain an old-world charm, adding to their appeal. A brief postscript brings the story up to today. The authors, a Foreign Service father-daughter team, lived in India in the waning years of the 20th century and the early years of the new century, where they became acquainted with Mussoorie and Landour.

Treasured leisure time there, away from the heat and bustle of New Delhi, combined with an interest in British colonial history, led to this book. Stephanie Spaid Miedema, a social science researcher, recently completed several years of United Nations-funded research in the Asia-Pacific region.

Stephen H. In Collecting Shakespeare , Stephen H. Shortly after marrying in , the Folgers began buying, cataloging and storing all manner of items about the Bard of Avon and his era. The frugal couple financed their hobby with the fortune Henry earned as president of Standard Oil Company of New York, where he was a trusted associate of John D.

On Capitol Hill, it now houses 82 First Folios, , books and 60, manuscripts. It welcomes more than , visitors a year and is also a vibrant cultural center for plays, concerts, lectures and poetry readings. The library provided Stephen H. Grant with unprecedented access to the primary sources within the Folger vault.

He also drew on interviews with surviving Folger relatives, and visits to 35 related archives in the United States and in Britain. Born at the turn of the century, Frances Elizabeth Willis lived an extraordinary life. She was the first person to receive a Ph. Foreign Service from to In , she was appointed U. A genuine trailblazer, Ms.

How she overcame those barriers is the subject of this engaging biography. Nicholas J. Willis is the nephew of Frances Elizabeth Willis and knew her well. He graduated from Stanford University on a U. Navy scholarship in and, after five years on active duty, spent the rest of his career on military radars and their countermeasures. He wrote this book following his retirement to Carmel, Calif.

It encompasses the diplomatic, political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of the relationship, with an emphasis on changing American images, myths and stereotypes of Japan and the Japanese. John H. Subsequent chapters explore American attitudes toward Japan during the Gilded Age, the early s, the s, the s and the Pacific War. The second part of the book, organized around the theme of the postwar Japanese-American partnership, covers the Occupation, the s, the troubled s and s, and the post—Cold War decades down to the Obama presidency. Miller concludes with some predictions about how Americans are likely to view Japan in the future.

He holds a Ph. Sharpe, Almost 10 years before Osama bin Laden was killed, the United States had a rare opportunity to decapitate the organization that had just carried out the deadliest foreign attack on American soil in history. Yet bin Laden escaped, and al-Qaida and the Taliban endured the initial onslaught. Using a broad array of sources, including interviews with U.

Yaniv Barzilai is a first-tour Foreign Service officer serving in Baku. Prior to joining the Service, Barzilai was awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship from the U. Department of State in A Body of Language: Revealing the Common Mind of Mankind offers a great boost for those learning Arabic and a good read for anyone who loves anthropology, linguistics, the common origins of humankind—or a good mystery. Matt Ellsworth proposes the solution to an ancient linguistic mystery, which the Arabs refer to as the phenomenon of al-ishtiqaq al-akbar when several words share the same letters, those words are often akin in meaning.

The theory behind the phenomenon is that each phonetic character of the Semitic mother tongue had a particular semantic value—or meaning—in the remote past. Ellsworth shows that the sounds of the Arabic alphabet derive their meaning from reference to the shape and function of parts of the human body. Matt A. He speaks French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian, and is a trained conference interpreter. Originally from Arizona, his interest in linguistics started during his missionary experience in Chile in the s and continued through studies at Brigham Young University, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute.

Daniel Whitman, ed. Many of those individuals were involved in helping to bring about the peaceful end of apartheid and build a post-apartheid democratic system. They now occupy important positions in academia, the media, parliament and the judiciary of South Africa. With an introduction and final note by Daniel Whitman, a former program development officer at Embassy Pretoria, the book consists of interviews with more than 30 South Africans and Americans who administered, advanced and participated in the government-funded exchange.

The result is a detailed account of the workings and effectiveness of such long-term programs. Here is a highly readable account of the evolution of economic thinking, as the subtitle states, from Adam Smith to Joseph Schumpeter. It also documents the differences between, as well as interaction among, the various schools of thought and models, and discusses the implications of this history for economics and the policy sciences in the decades ahead.

Prior to his diplomatic career, Mitchell directed two survey research centers and two long-term task forces for the Florida governor and state legislature, and served as the U. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. A special selection of the History Book Club, Citizen-General chronicles the life of Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training who emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that. Yet the reserved and bookish Cox helped secure West Virginia for the Union; jointly commanded the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam; broke the Confederate supply line, thereby helping to precipitate the fall of Atlanta; and held the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

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In fact, in each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, Cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian and scientist—the intellectual Ohioan was recognized as a leader. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and are the basis for interpreting many aspects of the war.

In this biography of CIA agent and Middle East hand Robert Ames, Kai Bird paints a vivid picture not only of the life and work of Ames, but of Beirut, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and the wider Middle East during the tumultuous years of the s through the s, including the early years of the Palestinian struggle for independence. Ames, the son of a Philadelphia-area steel worker, played basketball at LaSalle University, served in the Army Signal Corps in what is now Eritrea, took and failed the Foreign Service exam, and then joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he specialized in the Middle East.

A gifted intelligence officer and incorruptible, Ames became the most important U. Tragically, he was killed at the age of 49 in the April terrorist attack on Embassy Beirut. For a detailed review, see the October FSJ. Kai Bird won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of J. Diplomacy in Black and White is the first work to explore the alliance between American President John Adams and Toussaint Louverture, leader of the slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue that culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Republic of Haiti.

Author Ronald Johnson delves into the rich history of the Americans and Haitians of the time, and explains how these two revolutionary peoples played significant roles in shaping the Atlantic world. The book recounts the U. The shared history of Adams and Louverture also demonstrates the power of individual leaders during key moments in history.

He has served as a U. The existential threat posed by the Islamic State group underscores just how far Iraq still has to go to recover from the U. Ambassador David Dunford collaborated after the American military victory was daunting but relatively straightforward, at least on paper: reconstituting the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, essentially from scratch. Working under the aegis of the U. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the pair initially made considerable progress at professionalizing Iraqi diplomacy. But then ORHA made the colossally shortsighted decision to bar all senior members of the Baath Party from holding any position within the Iraqi government.

Ambassador Ghassan Muhsin Hussein is a retired Iraqi career diplomat and artist. Foreign Service in after a distinguished career. In this authoritative overview, Robert Kemp looks at the U. Drawing on his experience on the ground, Kemp gives a firsthand, unfiltered view of how U. He analyzes the policies and practices the allies developed while learning to work with the Afghans—and each other—and offers lessons learned.

Kemp also looks at the insurgency—how it gained momentum beginning in , turning into a multifaceted challenge involving groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al-Qaida. He describes the complexities of the border with Pakistan, tribal and ethnic relations, poppy and opium production, corruption and how the army and police developed.

With a foreword by Ambassador Ronald E. FSO Robert Kemp served in Afghanistan from to , from to and for two shorter assignments. He was deputy director of the Pakistan desk in Washington, D. In Brazil, farmers clear large swaths of the Amazon to plant soybeans, while Indian poachers hunt tigers and elephants to feed Chinese demand. Meanwhile, clouds of mercury and ozone drift earthward to America after trans-Pacific jet-stream journeys.

A Foreign Service officer since , Craig Simons recently completed a two-year tour in Chengdu and is now preparing for a Havana assignment. Prior to joining the Service, Simons was the Asia bureau chief for Cox Newspapers from until and before that wrote about China and Asia for Newsweek, Reuters and other publications.

He first moved to China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in During the summer of , he was a public policy scholar at the China Environment Forum. Lawrence E. Multiculturalism—the belief that no culture is better or worse than any other; it is merely different—has come to dominate Western intellectual thought and to serve as a guide to domestic and foreign policy, and development aid.

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But what if multiculturalism is flawed? What if some cultures are more prone to progress than others and more successful at creating the cultural capital that encourages democratic governance, social justice and the elimination of poverty for all? Harrison takes the politically incorrect stand that all cultures are not created equal. Analyzing the performance of countries, grouped by predominant religion, Harrison argues for the superiority of those cultures that emphasize Jewish, Confucian and Protestant values.

A concluding chapter outlines ways in which cultural change may substantially transform societies within a generation. Drawing on two decades of Foreign Service experience, Daniel Serwer has come to see a critical imbalance between U. First, he says, it is time to abolish the Department of State, the U.

Agency for International Development and the Foreign Service. In their place, a new foreign office would carry out their core functions, with help from an array of nongovernmental organizations. These would operate, with at least some federal funding, to support political and economic reforms in autocratic countries, to help them transition peacefully into sustainable societies.

In , with David R. In this hard-hitting monograph, retired Ambassador Laurence Pope documents the growing dysfunction of American diplomacy. As Pope documents, the State Department has already ceded most foreign policy functions to the White House staff, and allowed political appointees to marginalize career Foreign Service members. Yet in the information age, diplomacy is actually more important than ever. And in its absence, America may be drawn into more wars it cannot afford to fight.

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Laurence Pope, a Foreign Service officer from to , served as ambassador to Chad from to , among many other assignments. He was also nominated as chief of mission in Kuwait in , but the Senate never acted on his nomination. The behavior of several political appointees for ambassadorial positions in confirmation hearings earlier this year scandalized Washington and drew unusual attention to the role of ambassadors in U.

Few people have any idea who gets the title or what that person really does. To address these issues, Jett, a retired FSO and two-time ambassador, has written a book that explains where ambassadors come from, where they go, what their work entails and why they still matter. During a year Foreign Service career, he served on three continents and in Washington, D. He was appointed U. Gregory W.

Engle and Tibor P. Nagy Jr. The authors, both veteran FSOs and ambassadors, draw on a combined six decades of international experience to address the challenges of managing international organizations, diplomatic missions and nongovernmental organizations.

There are no footnotes. Neither are there extensive empirical data or theoretical nostrums. The chapters are presented as briefings by one of the authors on each topic, and anecdotes from their own careers underline their advice in such areas as cross-cultural factors, safety and security, crisis management, local employees and local practice, and more.

Ambassador Tibor P. He capped his career with ambassadorships in Guinea and Ethiopia Ambassador Gregory W. After serving as minister counselor for management affairs at Embassy Baghdad in , he retired in George F. Kennan, edited by Frank Costigliola, W. This landmark collection, spanning 90 years of U.