In This Review

Over Here
Over Here
By Raymond Seitz
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999, 320 pp

The first career diplomat ever chosen as ambassador to Great Britain, Seitz was renowned in the American foreign Service for his wit, polish, operational skill, and perceptiveness. These qualities are on display in this discursive and very enjoyable introduction to modern Britain. Now a top investment banker in London, Seitz offers novel perspectives that will inform even those readers who think they know Britain well. His book made headlines in Britain thanks to a brief but damning sketch of the early Clinton White House and its Dublin ambassador's handling of Northern Ireland. According to Seitz, "London even stopped passing sensitive intelligence to the White House because it often seemed to find its way back to the IRA." Unfortunately, readers must take this astonishing assertion seriously given Seitz's reputation for probity. Near the end, Seitz points out that the words "special relationship," like a "brass plate on a church floor," do seem "a little worn from hard rubbing." But the specialness of the relationship can still be discerned, aided by this unsentimental yet good-humored book.