In the guise of giving a detailed view of the daily work of our embassies overseas, Charles Thayer has presented a most persuasive and gracious argument for career diplomacy. While his picture of an embassy operating in crisis,- Beirut, Lebanon, 1958- is outstanding, engrossing dramatic reading, and his explanations of the ways of consuls and couriers and the role of protocol are an informative and important part of his book, it is his presentation of the diplomat's heritage that is most impressive here and that delineates diplomacy as a profession with as much tradition and master lore behind it as the law. Thayer harks back to great predecessors who have shaped the nature of diplomacy in the West, and compares it with the Byzantine influence upon the Soviet. He reads history from the diplomat's angle, interpreting anew the second Versailles conference. He points up the uneven balance between the military and diplomatic branches of service stemming from an unevolved philosophy which does not see the military as an extension of diplomatic tactics. He comments on the necessary interplay of foreign policy and propaganda and notes our shortcomings; indeed, he follows the experimental attempts at progress throughout our national history -- and finds a new threat in the ""generalist"" philosophy currently being applied. His own definition of a diplomat's calling -- aims, methods, education -- is given in a forceful, calm voice that commands attentive hearings.