J. Robert Moskin
J. Robert Moskin

American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service

How the story of the U.S. Foreign Service came to be told—Robert Moskin remembers:
On a sunny June day in 1994,
my wife Lynn and I sat with Betty and Roy Atherton at our college class’ 50th Reunion luncheon in the Harvard Yard.
Roy and I were classmates and had already been friends for more than half a century. He had recently retired as the Director General of the U.S. Foreign Service and had just read
The U.S. Marine Corps Story, the history of the Corps I had written. Roy asked me:
Why don’t you write a history like that on the U.S. Foreign Service?

It was instantly clear that the Foreign Service’s story could make a hell of a book.
We talked it out over the next months, and I cleared my decks and started work some
fifteen years ago.



Mr. Truman's War
Among Lions
The U.S. Marine Corps Story
Morality in America
The Marines
Executive's Book of Quotations
The Decline of the American

The decision to tell the story of the U. S. Foreign Service was followed by trips to U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe and interviews with American diplomats like Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary Henry Kissinger, Ambassador George F. Kennan, former hostage Ambassador L. Bruce Laingen, Ambassador Avis Bohlen, Ambassador Ruth Davis, and a hundred more.

Margaret E. Mahoney, who had begun her career in the Foreign Service, obtained a seed grant from the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. And a consortium of private foundations: the Una Chapman Cox Foundation; the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training; the Delavan Foundation; and the DACOR Bacon House Foundation – all of which care a great deal about the Foreign Service – created a fund to support the project.

The story touched the lives of a surprising range of people. Their common quality is that they spent so much of their lives abroad in the service of their country. Even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, Silas Deane was the first covert diplomat sent abroad by the united British colonies. He was joined by Benjamin Franklin, the father of the Foreign Service, and Thomas Jefferson, the first Secretary of State under the new U. S. Constitution.           

Andrew Jackson squeezed the Foreign Service into a greedy spoils system. In 1856, Townsend Harris, the first U.S. envoy to Japan, needed eighteen months before he was allowed to meet with officials in Tokyo. From London, Charles Francis Adams led Lincoln’s Civil War against the Confederacy. Three close friends, Elihu Root, John Hay, and Whitelaw Reid, drove America’s imperial expansion. Not until 1922 was Lucile Atcherson appointed as the first American woman Foreign Service officer.

The U.S. Foreign Service needed years to acquire a semblance of professionalism.  Along the way, its members included many dedicated and courageous public servants, and also some political spoilsmen and rogues, operating bordellos and selling passports.         

Today, the United States Foreign Service consists of a community of men and women who choose to spend a substantial  part of their lives in foreign lands working for the benefit of their fellow Americans  They are the nation’s eyes and ears and its very first line of defense. They are honed to a professional proficiency.

The early U. S. Foreign Service posted six ministers in six capitals, and consuls in sixty-nine cities abroad. They have now grown to a legacy of 58,000 men and women stationed at 286 posts in 190 of the world’s 192 nations. Of those diplomats, 244 have died in the line of duty, including the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three U.S. Foreign Service officers in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said plainly: "Diplomacy has always been a hazardous occupation."

The result is J. Robert Moskin’s American Statecraft which tells the entire heroic and surprising story of the U.S. Foreign Service for the very first time.

Thomas L. Dunne, publisher of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, itself a division of Macmillan, published American Statecraft on November 19, 2013. Tom Dunne has been with St. Martin's since January 1971 and has had his own imprint there since 1986.