An anecdotal memoir from diplomat and politician Kaiser, former US ambassador to Hungary and Austria. Brooklyn boy and Rhodes Scholar Kaiser emerges here as a deserving recipient of some of life's glittering prizes. He credits his diplomatic skills to coping with sibling rivalries in a family of ten children—skills later in evidence in Senegal, Mauritania, Hungary, and Austria, and during his time as deputy chief of mission in America's London embassy. Kaiser has a behind-the-scenes perspective on matters ranging from W. Averell Harriman's parsimony (though ``one of America's great public figures,'' this heir to a banking and railroad fortune rarely carried money and habitually asked dinner guests to pick up the tab) to Richard Nixon's secret encouragement of Vietnamese president Nguyen van Thieu to hold out for a better deal from a Republican administration in 1968—which, Kaiser says, prolonged the war by years. Kaiser's most vivid passages here concern his days as a student at the University of Wisconsin and later at Oxford's Balliol College, where he was voted ``the cleanest man in the college'' and befriended future P.M. Edward Heath. In a final section, Kaiser defends the foreign service as essential for mediating between countries, even in these days of instant communication, and contends that continued commitment to foreign aid is necessary despite the collapse of the Soviet threat. Kaiser has an acquaintanceship as vast as his memory, and he's at his best when discussing the personalities of well-known friends.
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