While a departure from our normal offerings under this rubric, the following announcement will, we believe, lead our readers to an enjoyable glimpse of life in the Foreign Service. It presents a new volume of fiction written by a well-known retired colleague and received by a number of Middle East experts with acclaim. —Assoc. Ed.
A Diplomat’s Progress, Ten Tales of Diplomatic Adventure in and around the Middle East, by Henry Precht collects ten short stories which describe the social and physical landscapes of the region and some of the people—foreign and American—who inhabit them. In each tale, the same Foreign Service officer, Harry Prentice, contends with a full range of the region’s challenges—Cold War and internal strife, drugs, corruption, religious fanaticism, rough regimes, terrorism, espionage, police work and diplomatic niceties—while keeping clearly in mind his goal of securing a better assignment and promotion. Each story, flavored with cynical humor, provides a particular insight into how American diplomacy works or fails when it grinds up against the tectonic plate of local interests.
While the stories are fictional, they are based on the author’s experience in Egypt, Arab-Israel affairs and Iran. Precht was in charge of the State Department’s Iran desk during the revolution and hostage crisis. Blamed for the loss of Iran, he was blocked from an ambassadorial assignment by Senator Jesse Helms. After serving in Cairo (1981-85), he retired to Cleveland to become president of the Council on World Affairs while teaching international affairs at Case Western Reserve University
Published by Williams & Co. of Savannah, Ga. 236 pages. $14.95. Distributed by Syracuse University Press. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org).