Among my English-language students I have some who are studying with Diplotaxis to enter the Spanish diplomatic service. It is clear that such people have a very real need to know What Diplomats Do, and that the only way to achieve this is to rely on the experience of professionals for information and advice. Sir Brian Barder’s book draws on his own time in the British diplomatic service, in which he served as ambassador in several important countries, to provide a wealth of practical information that is hard to find elsewhere.
The book follows the career of a fictional British diplomat called Adam and his wife, inevitably called Eve. The British background is only natural but the work and life of diplomats has much in common no matter the country that they represent: dealing with foreign governments, dealing with your own foreign ministry, humanitarian work, consular activities, promoting trade, working in international organisations, it is all here in a readable presentation – and not only professional life but also vivid and informative descriptions of the personal and family problems and pleasures of living and working in an unusual situation far from home.
Not only do we follow Adam’s own career from entry to the highest levels of diplomacy. There are personal illustrations from Brian Barder’s own time spent in many parts of the world, including his personal decision to authorise the airlift that relieved the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s. Spanish readers will be especially interested in his account of his participation in the UN debate over Gibraltar in the 1960s.
By combining a realistic description of Adam’s career with the factual events of his own, Brian Barder presents the ups and downs, the pleasure and the pain, of a diplomatic career. I recommend it strongly to my students and to anyone else who wants to know what diplomats actually do.
Sir Brian Barder, KCMG, had a varied career in the British Diplomatic Service, serving in Moscow, Canberra and New York, as ambassador to Ethiopia, the Republic of Bénin, and Poland, and as high commissioner to Nigeria and Australia.
The book is available in paper and Kindle versions from all Amazon sites including amazon.co.uk, amazon.es and amazon.com. For more information about the book and other options for buying it, click here.
What Diplomats Do is written by Sir Brian Barder KCMG and published by Rowman & Littlefield.
This is an unpaid review of a book that I bought at my own expense. I have no connection, personal, commercial or financial, with the publisher of What Diplomats Do or with any bookseller. Peter Harvey.