Gregg is best known for his service as U.S. ambassador to South Korea in 1989–93. But that post was merely the culmination of a distinguished 42-year career in Asia. Gregg started out as a CIA operations officer based in Burma, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam and later served as a member of the National Security Council staff and as national security adviser to U.S. Vice President George H. W. Bush. He recounts his experiences with insight and humor. While serving as the CIA station chief in Seoul, he opposed the torture employed by the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency during the period of military rule. He twice helped prevent the military-led government from killing Kim Dae-jung, a dissident who later went on to become South Korea’s president and win the Nobel Peace Prize. Gregg offers few details of his work for the CIA, drawing more from his NSC and ambassadorial postings. Throughout, he provides a rich sense of the highs and lows of family and professional life in government service and reflects on the role of personalities in making policy machinery work well (as was sometimes the case in South Korea) or poorly (as was often the case in Vietnam).
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