The Dramatic Adventures of America's First Diplomats

By Faktorovich, Anna | Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

The Dramatic Adventures of America's First Diplomats


Faktorovich, Anna, Pennsylvania Literary Journal


The Dramatic Adventures of America's First Diplomats Peter D. Eicher. Raising the Flag: America's First Envoys in Faraway Lands. $36.95: hardcover. 4l6pp, 6X9", 40 images. ISBN: 978-161234-970-1. Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, August 1, 2018.

The first person that comes into my mind when I think of an American diplomat is Thomas Jefferson and his work as a minister to France in the crucial years around the American Revolution, wherein he managed to convince France to back America in the conflict against their rival monarchy, Britain. This type of diplomacy won America its inde- pendence, so America's diplomats are the underrated players in international politics. There are only so many countries that a US president can think about in a day, but these envoys can be all over the map, looking out for America's interests. Here's the summary: "Their stories, often stranger than fiction, are replete with intrigues, revolutions, riots, war, shipwrecks, swashbucklers, desperadoes, and bootleggers." Since I've traveled to China, Mexico, Italy, Israel and other countries and since I was born in Soviet Russia, I definitely can confirm that simply traveling abroad is full of drama and misadventure, representing a foreign government in an official capacity definitely adds an extreme level of danger to the job. Typically, when governments go abroad they do it with a slew of federal agents or a massive military force, but a diplomat's job is to have a minimal military presence with them as their job is avoiding wars rather than engaging in them. So, they are out there preaching for America amidst a country that might be extremely hostile to this message, and to this lone propogandist. The summary goes on: "Early envoys abroad faced hostile governments, physical privations, disease, isolation, and the daunting challenge of explaining American democracy to foreign rulers. Many suffered threats from tyrannical despots, some were held as slaves or hostages, and others led foreign armies into battle." The period examined is between the American Revolution and the Civil War. These stories shaped what we all currently accept as America's established foreign policy. The author's comments on these narratives comes from experience as he is a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who served at various countries around the world. This is one of the most beautiful jacket designs out of the set: great painting at the center, and great use of the patriotic red, white and blue without sliding into pure formulaic flag-propaganda as it's all very elegantly executed. There are also some interesting photographs, paintings, and drawings in the center of the book.

The "Introduction" explains that Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other famous diplomats were intentionally left out in favor of lesser known once that deserve to be brought into public consciousness. …

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