Heterogeneous material having to do with the conduct of foreign relations by the US and other nations--with one top-notch,...



Heterogeneous material having to do with the conduct of foreign relations by the US and other nations--with one top-notch, semi-independent section: on the Foreign Agricultural Service and its 30 years of super-salesmanship. Otherwise there are at least a couple of uneven, clumsily related books here. Pursuing his interest in professions, Mayer (The Lawyers, The Bankers, etc.) has looked into the status and functions of foreign service personnel, and their selection and training, in diverse nations--with somewhat more said, in each instance, about the US. The content ranges from basic information I and II (what ""diplomatic immunity"" means, how a US embassy is staffed) to illustrations-from-history (""a representative who is liked and trusted has a better chance of convincing his opposite number that what his government intends is acceptable"") to the occasional amplified first-hand report (the ""surprising,"" multinational, bilingual International Relations Institute of Cameroon). Information on the successive reorganizations of the US Foreign Service, and on the Foreign Service School, has reference utility; one idea advanced is that the UN fosters belief ""in a false, political interdependence"": everything isn't of real interest to everyone. The book's second half deals mostly with the implementation of US foreign policy: the history of the State Dept. since TR (problems, current shortcomings); relations between the State Dept. and the President, the press, and Congress (including the role of National Security Adviser); State Dept. relations with international organizations and the UN itself (presaged by a free-standing account of the EEC). Most of this material, intended to show the US foreign-relations tangle, consists of snips of history. There follows an account of Israeli foreign relations that has chiefly to do with Israeli national problems (and only in small part with the Foreign Ministery). The wrap-up, in turn, takes up world issues--predominantly bipolarity and nuclear arms. That leaves the report on agricultural attachÉs--""farm boy"" PhDs who look out for the interests of New Jersey blueberry-growers and Vermont cattle-breeders--where Mayer has some fascinating detail and a Big Story. Still, fragmentary as the text is, the foreign-service overview has enough color to be diverting and enough examples to satisfy curiosity. (It also has no direct competition.)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983

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