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America's Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy Paperback – Sep 1 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (Sept. 1 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466446560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466446564
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #698,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
What Diplomats Actually Do. Sept. 14 2012
By William C. Harrop - Published on
Format: Paperback
I spent 39 years in the Foreign Service, toward the end as ambassador and State Department inspector general, which I assume is why the author asked me to critique his manuscript. Mr. Kralev provides a vibrant, accurate description of what American diplomats actually do, something little understood by their countrymen. Of course there is danger--nine of my friends and colleagues suffered a violent end--but this book dwells more on the wide variety of duties performed and the sense of national service that permeates this small corps of public servants. The author took advantage of his job as a journalist covering the State Department, which entailed traveling tens of thousands of miles with the Secretary. He interviewed scores of Foreign Service Officers and watched what went on in embassies, consulates, and some more remote locations. He describes the occasional excitement and glamor of the Foreign Service career, as well as the strain upon marriages, the challenge of educating children. He criticizes systemic flaws he finds. The narrative flows smoothly. If you are interested in an honest, often surprising account of America's "first line of defense", here it is.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Ripped from the headlines Sept. 12 2012
By Darrell Delamaide - Published on
Format: Paperback
The recent killing of American diplomats in Libya illustrates the main thesis of this important book in tragically dramatic fashion. The needs of national security in a volatile world have put U.S. Foreign Service officers on the front lines in new and sometimes extremely hazardous fashion.

Kralev's timely account of how the State Department represents America's interests around the world illuminates a vital component our security apparatus that remains too often in the shadows.

The author, a former diplomatic correspondent for two major newspapers, brings the Foreign Service to life with numerous profiles and anecdotes from diplomats he has encountered over the years. In addition, interviews with the current secretary of State and her recent predecessors provide invaluable insight into how America's diplomatic mission has evolved in recent years. The author's first-hand accounts of visits to American embassies around the world give the reader a taste of a life that is at times exotic, even glamorous, but often gritty and dangerous as well.

What comes through most strongly in this chronicle of several active and retired diplomats, however, is the sense of duty and mission that motivates their service. Kralev doesn't gloss over the shortcomings or problems in the State Department, but he lets the words and deeds of these public servants speak for themselves and the reader can't help but be impressed by their talent and dedication.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read on American Diplomacy Sept. 14 2012
By Dan Mahoney - Published on
Format: Paperback
Nick Kralev provides an excellent account on not only the big picture of American diplomacy, but more importantly how the Foreign Service operates and how it fits into the bigger picture of US foreign policy. The book is extremely effective in providing a personal element to the Foreign Service as it utilizes the experiences of past and present Foreign Service Officers to illustrate to the reader what diplomats go through on a day-to-day basis.

Given recent events in North Africa, "America's Other Army" is an important read in order to gain a more complete understanding of the nuts and bolts of US diplomatic work abroad and not just the big picture policy objectives laid out from Washington. Furthermore, Kralev strives at all times to emphasize the people that make up the Foreign Service and the extraordinary talents they must possess in order to successfully fulfill the tasks asked of them in their work.

In all, "America's Other Army" provides an excellent overview of the work of the Foreign Service, which is a subject that is not explored enough as it should given the current importance of diplomacy for American interests.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Must read book on the foreign service Sept. 14 2012
By Barbara Slavin - Published on
Format: Paperback
Nick Kralev had done a tremendous job describing what US foreign service officers really do -- from the mundane to the truly heroic. That his book comes out during the week that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans died in Libya makes his story even more poignant and urgent. Most Americans know what our military does but have no clue about how a tiny band of diplomats represents US interests abroad and advances American goals while trying to understand complex cultures. I highly recommend Nick's book to young Americans considering joining the foreign service and to anyone who wants to know what "America's Other Army" is all about.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Anyone Considering Joining Jan. 1 2013
By Jay L Porter - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been working for the Foreign Service for about six years now, so my opinion of Mr. Kralev's book may be a little biased. I think this is an excellent introduction into what the Foreign Service does, the realities of our work, the challenges we face, leadership shortcomings, and both successes and failures we have had in our recent history. Anyone who is considering joining the service should read this book first. I think it provides a realistic view of what you'll be doing, and not all of it is glamorous, adventurous, travel. All of us have hauled somebody's suitcases, or scrambled to find dinner reservations for a visiting official, or spent countless days stuck behind a computer in a cubicle trying to put final edits on a Congressional-mandated report. This is also an excellent book for anyone who is curious about how American diplomacy works (or doesn't). I particularly appreciated the section on consular work and the frustrations involved in helping American citizens. All of us have consular stories of being accused of wrong doing or not caring when the situation is often out of our control or American citizens are demanding we do things that are prohibited by law (but they don't generally know that, so they assume we simply choose not to help them.) It was refreshing to read both sides of the stories and hear the officer's point of view on the matter as well.

Because the FS is so small, it was interesting to read some personal anecdotes from officers I either knew or knew about. State Department employees or those familiar with the structure of the Foreign Service might find the first few chapters a little boring. Kralev does a good job of explaining how the department is structured, the process for getting into the service etc. It will be a review for some readers. However, forge on, because analysis and experiences really take up the last two thirds of the book and are worth the read.

Overall, I think this is a fair assessment of the service, and one of the best books I've read looking at contemporary diplomacy and the State Department. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what a foreign service officer does, to foreign service officers who are interested in how an outsider views our work, and to anyone interested in learning about the challenges and limitations of modern diplomacy. I wish every American citizen, and in particular every Congressman!!! read this book and understood the ideas presented by Mr. Kralev.

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