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A Professional Foreigner: Life in Diplomacy By Edward Marks

A Professional Foreigner: Life in Diplomacy

By Edward Marks

Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, April 2023

304 pages

Young American Foreign Service officers are accustomed to being teased by friends and relatives as to what they do in the “Foreign Legion” or the “Forest Service.” In the United States, unlike in many countries, the role of a professional diplomat is little known or understood. In A Professional Foreigner Edward Marks describes his life as an American diplomat who served during the last four decades of the twentieth century, from 1959 to 2001.
Serving primarily in Africa and Asia, Marks was present during the era of decolonization in Africa . . . was intimately involved in the early days of the U.S. government’s antiterrorism programs, observed the unfolding of a nasty and tragic ethnic conflict in one of the most charming countries in the world, and saw the end of the Cold War at UN headquarters in New York. Along the way Marks served as the U.S. ambassador to two African nations.
In this memoir Marks depicts a Foreign Service officer’s daily life, providing insight into the profession itself and what it was like to play a role in the steady stream of history, in a world of quotidian events often out of the view of the media and the attention of the world. Marks’s stories—such as rescuing an American citizen from a house of ill repute in Mexico and the attempt to recruit mongooses for drug intervention in Sri Lanka—are both entertaining and instructive on the work of diplomats and their contributions to the American story.
“Edward Marks’s literate memoir of four decades practicing diplomacy in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America is highly readable—as well as fun. A sharp observer of social and political behavior, he shows how the contrasting characters of European colonizers left lasting effects on their former colonies. . . .”—William Harrop, former U.S. ambassador
“Edward Marks’s highly engaging and poignant memoir is also a valuable primer on the profession and art of diplomacy and the inner workings of institutions such as the U.S. State Department, the military, and the United Nations. Marks’s memoir is a paean to the golden age of diplomacy and multilateralism. . . .—Milinda Moragoda, high commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, founder of the Pathfinder Foundation, and former cabinet minister in Sri Lanka
“A relatively small corps of several thousand American Foreign Service officers . . . promote and defend U.S. interests every day of the year as diplomats based in American embassies, consulates, and missions in every country in the world. How they carry out their responsibilities, and how they meet the many challenges that arise, constitutes a fascinating story. After a long and varied career in diplomacy, Edward Marks relates that story with sharp insights and nonstop amusement.”—Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs
“. . . .This is your handbook on what diplomacy is all about. . . . In a feast of anecdotes, you can smell the atmosphere in downtown Bissau, Luanda, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, and Nairobi––‘small Foreign Service posts . . . on the periphery of mainstream diplomacy,’ much more interesting than Paris, Moscow, or Beijing.”—Robert Cox, former European Union official
“A seasoned diplomat’s memoir adds to our knowledge of practice, appealing to readers across countries. . . . The hallmark of Marks’s writing is his gentle humor, cloaking his passion.”—Kishan S. Rana, former ambassador, Indian Foreign Service
Edward Marks, a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer, served as the State Department Advisor on Terrorism and is a founding trustee of the Command and General Staff College Foundation. He is the coauthor of U.S. Counterterrorism: From Nixon to Trump—Key Challenges, Issues, and Responses and U.S. Government Counterterrorism: A Guide to Who Does What and the author of Complex Emergencies: Bureaucratic Arrangements in the UN Secretariat.

Erdogan’s War: A Strongman’s Struggle At Home And In Syria By Gonul Tol

Erdogan’s War: A Strongman’s Struggle At Home And In Syria

By Gonul Tol

Oxford University Press, November 2022

440 pages

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s pugnacious president, is now the country’s longest-serving leader. On his way to the top, he has fought many wars. This book tells the story of those battles against domestic enemies through the lens of the Syrian conflict, which has become part and parcel of Erdoğan’s fight to remain in power.
Turkey expert Gönül Tol traces Erdoğan’s ideological evolution from a conservative democrat to an Islamist and a Turkish nationalist, and explores how this progression has come to shape his Syria policy, changing the course of the war. She paints a vivid picture of the president’s constantly shifting strategy to consolidate his rule, showing that these shifts have transformed Turkey’s role in post-uprising Syria from an advocate of democracy, to a power fanning the flames of civil war, to an occupier.
From the first days of Erdoğan’s rule through the failed coup against him, via the Kurdish peace process, the Arab uprisings and the refugee crisis, this compelling, authoritative book tells the story of one man’s quest to remain in power–tying together the fates of two countries, and changing them both forever.
“Superbly narrates the tragic intersection of Syria’s civil war and Turkey’s ravenously ambitious president. Politicians clung to power in Damascus and Ankara, but “Erdoğan’s War” helped shatter Syria and undermined what had been an aspiring Turkish democracy. A sad story, very ably told.”- David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post
“Early in Syria’s peaceful uprising, Turkish officials were alarmed by Assad’s brutal survival tactics, and perplexed by his turning from Turkey’s friendly leader. But Syria and Syrians became props for Erdoğan’s own political survival. This is a fascinating story, and no one tells it better than Tol.”– Frederic C. Hof, former U.S. Special Envoy to Syria
“A timely and insightful examination of Erdoğan’s project and its geostrategic implications. Well-written, richly informed and powerfully argued, this is a must-read for anyone interested in Turkey today, or in how strongman politics and great power ambitions are changing countries and the world order.”– Vali Nasr, Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East Studies and International Affairs, Johns Hopkins University
“Expertly traces Turkish decisions and actions in the Syria conflict, providing unique context as we consider NATO’s role post-Ukraine. Tol’s dissection of Turkey under Erdoğan’s unique leadership will help future generations of military and diplomatic leaders understand this critical, but frequently frustrating, NATO ally.”– Gen. Joseph L. Votel (Ret.), commander of U.S. Central Command 2016-19
“A sharp and penetrating analysis of Turkey’s transformation under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and of foreign policy’s role in that process. A very well-written and engaging book that covers everything you need to know to understand today’s Turkey.”– Yasar Yakis, former Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs
“This astute book masterfully explains how Erdoğan’s plans to exploit the Syrian war for his own ends have perverted Turkish domestic politics, plunged his country further into authoritarianism, and changed the course of history. A fascinating, instructive and ultimately powerful cautionary tale.”– Fiona Hill, former Deputy Assistant to the U.S. President, and author of There Is Nothing for You Here
“A compelling, richly researched picture of Erdoğan as a populist, not an Islamist–a political chameleon with an uncanny sense for power. Tol’s clear writing makes sense of Turkey’s role in Syria’s catastrophic war, its slide into authoritarianism, and where it might be going.”–Marc Lynch, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, The George Washington University
Gönül Tol is the founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Turkey program, and a Frontier Europe Initiative senior fellow. A frequent media commentator, she teaches and writes extensively on Turkey-US relations, Turkish politics and foreign policy, the Kurdish issue, and Islamism in Western Europe and the Middle East.

The Zelensky Effect By Olga Onuch and Henry E. Hale

The Zelensky Effect

By Olga Onuch and Henry E. Hale

Oxford University Press, March 2023

224 pages

You cannot understand the historic events of 2022 without understanding Zelensky. But the Zelensky effect is less about the man himself than about the civic nation he embodies: what makes Zelensky most extraordinary in war is his very ordinariness as a Ukrainian.
The Zelensky Effect explains this paradox, exploring Ukraine’s national history to show how its now-iconic president reflects the hopes and frustrations of the country’s first ‘independence generation’. Interweaving social and political background with compelling episodes from Zelensky’s life and career, this is the story of Ukraine told through the journey of one man who has come to symbolize his country.
“The go-to book for grasping Ukrainians’ morale in the face of Russian aggression, and the determination of their president, who has demonstrated atmospheric levels of heroism and leadership-perhaps unlike any other in the world in recent decades.” — Marc Berenson, Senior Lecturer at King’s Russia Institute, King’s College London
“This wonderfully written and engaging book documents the emergence of Ukrainian civic national identity, best exemplified by Zelensky. A must-read for anyone wishing to understand contemporary Ukraine and what Ukrainians believe, value and fight for.” — Eugene Finkel, Kenneth H. Keller Associate Professor of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins University
“Drawing on years of research on Ukrainian politics and society, this timely study paints a fuller picture of Zelensky and the conditions that made him who he is today, and deserves a wide readership at this critical moment in European history.” — Gwendolyn Sasse, Director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)
“An essential book for understanding how a critical mass of Ukrainians converged around a vision of Ukraine grounded in democratic ideals, a European future and sovereign statehood.” — Oxana Shevel, Associate Professor of Political Science, Tufts University, and an associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
Olga Onuch is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester.
Henry E. Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.

Accidental Conflict: America, China, and the Clash of False Narratives By Stephen Roach

Accidental Conflict: America, China, and the Clash of False Narratives

By Stephen Roach

Yale University Press, November 2022

448 pages


In the short span of four years, America and China have entered a trade war, a tech war, and a new Cold War. This conflict between the world’s two most powerful nations wouldn’t have happened were it not for an unnecessary clash of false narratives, argues Stephen Roach.
In a hard-hitting analysis of both nations’ economies, politics, and policies, the author argues that much of the rhetoric on both sides is dangerously misguided, amplified by information distortion, and more a reflection of each nation’s fears and vulnerabilities than a credible assessment of the risks they face. Outlining the disastrous toll of conflict escalation between
China and America, Roach offers a new road map to restoring a mutually advantageous relationship.
“Stephen Roach . . . believes that China and the US both should and could have a workably co-operative relationship. Instead, they have fallen victim to mutually reinforcing false narratives of the other. Roach insists that there exists a way of trust and interdependence. Conceptually, he is right. Indeed, conflict would damage everybody, possibly catastrophically. But can it still be avoided?”—Martin Wolf, Financial Times, “Best Books of 2022: Economics”
“A timely, fluid, readable assessment of a testy and rapidly changing global relationship.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A remarkable book. Accidental Conflict offers a wealth of evidence about and a new depth of understanding of the underlying forces that drive the Chinese and United States economies.”—Robert J. Shiller, author of Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events
“If you wonder how the US-China relationship has gone from friendly to hostile in a few years, this is the book for you. It details the economic and political processes underlying this change and presents an avenue to avoid ‘Accidental Conflict.’”—Robert Engle, Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, 2003
Accidental Conflict is a very important and timely book. Its arguments and analyses have the potential to change misperceptions by policymakers and analysts on both sides and avoid a dangerous and mutually destructive course.”—Laura D. Tyson, former chair, White House Council of Economic Advisers
Stephen Roach is senior fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and School of Management, Yale University. Prior to that he was Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, and for the bulk of his career on Wall Street was Chief Economist of Morgan Stanley. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 1982, Mr. Roach served on the research staff of the Federal Reserve Board and was also a research fellow at the Brookings Institution. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. Roach has written extensively for the international media and appears regularly on television around the world.

Putin’s Wars: From Chechnya to Ukraine By Mark Galeotti

Putin’s Wars: From Chechnya to Ukraine

By Mark Galeotti

Osprey Publishing, November 2022

384 pages

Putin’s Wars is a timely overview of the conflicts in which Russia has been involved since Vladimir Putin became prime minister and then president of Russia, from the First Chechen War to the two military incursions into Georgia, the annexation of Crimea and the eventual invasion of Ukraine itself. But it also looks more broadly at Putin’s recreation of Russian military power and its expansion to include a range of new capabilities, from mercenaries to operatives in a relentless information war against Western powers. This is an engrossing strategic overview of the Russian military and the successes and failures on the battlefield.

. . . .It is also peppered with anecdotes of military life, personal snapshots of conflicts, and an extraordinary collection of first-hand accounts from serving and retired Russian officers. Russia continues to dominate the news cycle throughout the Western world. There is no better time to understand how and why Putin has involved his armed forces in a variety of conflicts for over two decades.


“Mark Galeotti is one of the most insightful and incisive analysts on Russia’s past, present, and future. Russia’s February 2022 expanded invasion of Ukraine tragically highlights the critical importance of understanding the connection between politics and war. Galeotti vividly shows how Russia has waged its wars… [and] how those wars shaped the country’s politics and, in turn, how politics shaped Moscow’s military campaigns.” ―Joshua C. Huminski, Director, Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs, Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress“This is a vivid account of how Putin has used armed force during his time in power, culminating in the deadly war in Ukraine.” ―Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King’s College London

“An accessible, lucid and vivid comprehensive contemporary account of the inner workings, logic and rationales of the central military pillar of Putinism. I unreservedly recommend this gem.” ―Dr Graeme P. Herd, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Putin’s Wars is Galeotti at his finest: writing that moves like a spy novel and enough information for the student or professional reader … An excellent and accessible contribution to the field for seasoned Russian observers and those interested in the larger sweep of how it all transpired.” ―Dr Yuval Weber, Bren Chair of Russian Military and Political Strategy at the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity at the US Marine Corps University

Mark Galeotti is a scholar of Russian security affairs with a career spanning academia, government service and business, a prolific author and frequent media commentator. He heads the Mayak Intelligence consultancy and is an Honorary Professor at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies as well as holding fellowships with RUSI and the Institute of International Relations Prague. He is the author of over 25 books including A Short History of Russia (Penguin, 2021).

Book Cover: The Next Apocalypse: The Art and Science of Survival By Chris Begley

The Next Apocalypse: The Art and Science of Survival

By Chris Begley

Basic Books, an Imprint of Perseus Books (Hachette Book Group)

263 pages

Pandemic, climate change, or war: Our era is ripe with the odor of doomsday. In movies, books, and more, our imaginations run wild with visions of dreadful, abandoned cities and returning to the land in a desperate attempt at survival.

In The Next Apocalypse, archaeologist Chris Begley argues that we completely misunderstand how disaster works. Examining past collapses of civilizations, drawing on decades of research into the ends of the Classic Maya civilization, the Roman Empire, and indigenous North American societies, Begley argues that most collapses are not abrupt cataclysms but the results of enduring crisis. . . .long processes of change, whether from drought, disease, or war.

Begley argues that it’s what happens after the initial uproar that matters. Some people abandon their homes and neighbors; others band together to start anew. As we anticipate our own fate, Begley tells us that it was communities, not lone heroes, who survived past apocalypses — and who will survive the next.

. . . .The result is a transformation of our understanding of the fall of civilizations and how to survive them. The ultimate test of survival won’t rely on individual preparation, but on collaboration and empathy.
Begley says in his book’s conclusion that “one of the most important skills in the future will be the ability to make good decisions, including evaluating information, choosing good leaders, and knowing whom to listen to for information and advice.”
“For Begley it is case studies. . . .not apocalyptic fiction that should guide us in imagining the next apocalypse. Otherwise we will find ourselves preparing not for the last war, but for a war that has never happened and never will — because it’s fictional.” — New York Review of Books

“Begley points out. . . how humans respond to disasters in real life. Social breakdown is fleeting, and people “rise to the occasion.” The author emphasizes that the most important skill for the future is not self-defense but the ability to cooperate.” — Kirkus Review

“An insightful look at the history of natural and man-made disasters and how people have survived them… Extensively researched and evenhanded, this is a valuable resource for preparing for the next crisis.”
 ―Publishers Weekly
“Begley expertly explains how a doomsday can occur (and includes suggestions on short term survival) but goes easy on the doom, preferring knowledge and preparation over fear and panic.”―Booklist
.“In this insightful book, an underwater archaeologist . . . shows how understanding the collapse of civilizations can help us prepare for a troubled future. — Goodreads
Chris Begley is an is a maritime archaeologist, an anthropology professor, and an author. He uses archaeological data to look at how societies responded to dramatic changes in the past, and compares that with how we envision the next apocalypse. He has a doctorate from the University of Chicago where he focused on the archaeology of the remote rainforests of the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. He was a Fulbright scholar in El Salvador, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, and is a National Geographic Explorer. He has conducted archaeological research in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia, Spain, Italy, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, and Greece. Currently he is focused on underwater archaeology as well as developing archaeological imaging technology, especially 3D imaging systems. He has a program on public radio called “Future Tense.”  His research has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, American Archaeology magazine and others. As a sideline, he is a wilderness survival instructor.


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