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American Statecraft is a fascinating and comprehensive look at the unsung men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service whose dedication and sacrifices have been a crucial part of our history for over two centuries. Fifteen years in the making, veteran journalist and historian Moskin has traveled the globe conducting hundreds of interviews both in and out of the State Department to look behind the scenes at America’s “militiamen of diplomacy.”
As the nation’s eyes and ears, our envoys pledge a substantial part of their lives in foreign lands working for the benefit of their nation. Endeavoring to use dialogue and negotiation as their instruments of change, our diplomats tirelessly work to find markets for American business, rescue its citizens in trouble abroad, and act in general as “America’s first line of defense” in policy negotiations, keeping America out of war. But it took generations to polish these skills, and Moskin traces America’s full diplomatic history, back to its amateur years coming up against seasoned Europeans during the days of Ben Franklin, now considered the father of the U.S. Foreign Service, and up to the recent Benghazi attack. Along the way, its members included many devoted and courageous public servants, and also some political spoilsmen and outright rogues.
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Review by Travis Starnes
American Statecraft is, as the subtitle proclaims it to be, the history of the US Foreign service. I was genuinely interested when I picked this up, as this arm of the US Government is quite possibly the least covered of any I have read about.
After a brief intro Moskin starts at the beginning of the service during the Revolutionary war and makes his way forward, hitting all of the major and a couple of minor points along its history. He examines the agencies leaders and key players in its developments as well as notable events that in some way helped shape the service into what it is.
It should be clear that this is a pro-foreign service book. As with most books that in some way examine part of our government, Moskin has a point of view. It is clear he is a fan of the US Foreign Service and he spends nearly the entire book explaining why the agency does such “fine work”, although to be fair he does bring up a few dark spots for the agency to give the rest of the book somewhat of a counterbalance.
Even though there is a definite skew to how the material is presented, not that I am saying I disagree with him just that it is fair to point out the books bias, this is still worth reading. He is without a doubt completely conversant on the organization and has put together an impressive amount of research on it as well. His writing style is easy to read, for a history book at least, and he has a narrative way of writing history that I find preferable to the more dry and quote heavy styles you sometimes find.
If you want to know about this often neglected part of the government or just like reading about the history of the US from other angles, this is worth picking up. It is thorough and flows nicely.