A must for anyone contemplating a Foreign Service career and for general readers looking for insight into diplomacy...

OUTPOST

LIFE ON THE FRONT LINES OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY: A MEMOIR

The dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver reflects on his more than 30 years in America’s Foreign Service.

From his days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon—he still insists it was his favorite job—to his final post as America’s ambassador to Iraq, Hill’s career covers a lot of territory, both geographically and in terms of our diplomatic history. He entered the State Department during the Cold War 1970s and became the nation’s first ambassador to Macedonia. Hill’s service included two more ambassadorships—Poland and South Korea—and an appointment as assistant secretary for East Asia. The best of his smoothly recounted stories, and the largest part of this narrative, center on three excruciatingly difficult assignments. First, he chronicles his memories of helping the irrepressible Richard Holbrooke end the war in Bosnia, negotiations that ended in the Dayton Peace Accords. Hill’s affection for and exasperation with “the Holbrooke force field” emerge from numerous episodes that add up to a memorable portrait of an unusual and remarkably effective diplomat at work. Second, as an add-on to his East Asia portfolio, Hill helmed the Six Party Talks with North Korea aimed at dismantling that country’s nuclear weapons program. The negotiations proved unsuccessful, but Hill’s retelling demonstrates the difficulties and the value of diplomacy even when the primary objective remains unrealized. Third, the author discusses his final, frustrating year-plus in Iraq when, seven years into the war, the State Department was still struggling to establish a meaningful role. A parade of famous names—presidents, secretaries of state, vice presidents, foreign heads of state, senators, generals—marches through these pages, and readers will delight at some of the shots fired and bouquets thrown at powerful personages who’ve been responsible for our foreign policy for the past 40 years.

A must for anyone contemplating a Foreign Service career and for general readers looking for insight into diplomacy conducted at the highest levels.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8591-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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