Rogue Ambassador: An African Memoir

In This Review

Rogue Ambassador: An African Memoir

By Smith Hempstone
University of The South Press, 1997
352 pp. $29.95

Former Washington Times editor Smith Hempstone was appointed President Bush's ambassador to Kenya days after the fall of the Berlin Wall. With an enthusiasm for political reform that far outweighed his regard for diplomatic niceties, he embarked on a personal crusade to prod dictator Daniel arap Moi to reform Kenya's corrupt one-party system. His caustic and candid memoir reveals the often mixed results, from the bending and backtracking of Kenyan officials to the bureaucratic caution of the U.S. State Department to the passive see-no-evil attitude of the British. Along the way he provides insightful portraits of Kenya's political class, both crafty insiders and tragically divided dissidents. Old Kenya-hands will savor the author's tales of meet-the-people bushwhacking expeditions while policy buffs will value his take on the 1992-93 U.S. military misadventure in neighboring Somalia. Prophetically, Hempstone cautioned Deputy Secretary of State Frank Wisner in August 1992 that "if you liked Beirut, you'll love Mogadishu." A lively book for university courses in international relations.

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