EATING WITH THE ENEMY by Robert Egan

EATING WITH THE ENEMY

How I Waged Peace with North Korea from My BBQ Shack in Hackensack

KIRKUS REVIEW

International political relations are creatively managed by a New Jersey restaurant owner.

In his 1992 sworn testimony, the author admitted to POW/MIA Affairs attorney John McCreary that he simply wished to “make a difference…to become part of the solution” in initiating positive dialogue between himself and Vietnamese political powerhouses. As the street-smart son of a blue-collar disciplinarian, Egan eschewed college for roofing work, abused cocaine and became a general troublemaker. Early on he developed an intense interest in the Vietnam War, which ended before he could enlist. Incensed by the many soldiers who remained unaccounted for by war's end, Egan brazenly contacted the Vietnamese Embassy in 1979, intent on getting answers to the missing POWs. Two years later, he opened Cubby's, a roadside barbeque restaurant that eventually became a base camp for his international-relations meetings. Vietnamese diplomats began to dine there, exchanging ideas and comparing their communist structure to America's capitalism—much to the extreme dismay of Egan's father, who notified the FBI. Believing his peacekeeping mission was fizzling, he settled into work at the restaurant, expanded the menu and moved in with his girlfriend. More than ten years after opening Cubby's, North Korean representatives visited, eager to “work together.” Under the watchful eye of Feds assigned to Egan, he carefully befriended the North Koreans with New Jersey Nets tickets, catered Embassy lunches and fishing trips. Amid international political discord, a good-natured culture clash endured between Egan and North Korean deputy U.N. ambassador Han Song Ryol. While continually informing McCreary of developments, Egan and his new friends pondered nuclear-arms issues and rationalized governmental misinterpretations. The author also submitted to a truth serum-induced interrogation and endured a few nerve-wracking moments throughout both the Clinton and Bush regimes.

An enlightening, and precarious, experiment in the ways opposing cultures can merge and acquiesce.

Pub Date: April 27th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-57130-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2010




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