"The Ambassadors"

As frontline diplomats are being publicly ignored and ridiculed by the President and his supporters, 30-year veteran newspaper reporter Paul Richter brings the history and daily work of four recently active career U.S. diplomats to the attention of readers. He cites these Ambassadors—Ryan Crocker, Chris Stevens, Anne Patterson and Robert Ford—as examples of courageous heroes, the most undervalued, but crucial weapons of U.S. national defense.

The book reports on their proficient diplomatic skills and use of “soft power,” while volunteering to serve as peacekeepers in the dangerous war zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and Libya. The true-life stories of this foursome portray how each has managed years of dealing with Washington’s political disorder and egotism, their host countries’ double-dealing leaders and terrorist organizations’ dodgy surprise tactics. They “do the hardest things in the hardest places.” Each attaché faces the threat of death a number of times and one, Chris Stevens, was killed at Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

In spite of the threats they face, all seem to be passionate about their work. In a speech given to students majoring in Foreign Service at Stamford University, Ryan Crocker concluded his remarks by asking his audience: “Do you really want to spend your career in Brussels, Paris or Berlin? Or do you want to be out where the action is?”

Richter explains that ambassadors are unconventional warriors running local governments, directing drone strikes and enduring countless meetings required for nation-building. They are not lounging in beautiful capitals of the world—those assignments are saved for donors to winning Presidential candidates. Indeed, career diplomats are out in the towns and villages, on the front line where the action is.

Part spy story and part transfixing war story, Richter’s laudable account of the role of U.S. diplomats supplies an important missing piece of the puzzle about how Middle East wars are fought. He gives vivid descriptions of people, places and events in the Muslim dominated Middle East and how the four diplomats mount the challenges.

“The Ambassadors” reveals the passion and commitment of dedicated representatives of the United States who through peaceful means seek to defuse tense situations and neutralize potential violence.

Readers will have a greater understanding of the victories and failures of the United States in the Middle East after reading this book. It is an ideal guide for anyone curious about current United States’ foreign policy and contemporary history.