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Capsule Review

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy

In This Review

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir
Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir
By Christopher R. Hill
Simon & Schuster, 2014 448 pp. $30.00 Purchase

Hill, an eminent U.S. diplomat, focuses on three episodes in this memoir: his work with the U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke during the Balkan crises in the Clinton administration, his attempt to reach a nuclear agreement with North Korea during President George W. Bush’s second term, and his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Iraq under President Barack Obama. Hill, a masterful prose stylist who carries on a long tradition of literary excellence among U.S. diplomats, is generous to all the presidents and secretaries of state he served. He reserves his ire for the neoconservatives he believes attempted to sabotage the North Korean negotiations and for U.S. senators whose posturing and obstructionism further complicated the already difficult jobs of U.S. diplomats. The sections on Hill’s time in Iraq are deeply troubling: the overgrown U.S. embassy in Baghdad was chaotic and dysfunctional, and Washington never seems to have truly faced the sectarian and political problems that have now resulted in renewed tumult and war in that unhappy country.

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