Foreign Service Books

AAFSW maintains a reading list of books about the U.S. Foreign Service. Remember that your purchases through the Amazon links on this site benefit AAFSW!

Featured Titles:Realities of Foreign Service Life (Volumes 1 and 2)

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 1 edited by Patricia Linderman and Melissa Brayer-Hess. Volume 2 edited by Patricia Linderman, Melissa Brayer-Hess and Marlene Monfiletto Nice.

Writers from the U.S. Foreign Service community share their views and personal experiences through essays about all aspects of Foreign Service life. These books will be of interest to newcomers or veterans of the Foreign Service, and are particularly useful to those contemplating a Foreign Service career.

Mention a diplomatic career and most people imagine high-level meetings, formal dress and cocktail parties. Few stop to think that behind the occasional glitter of official functions are thousands of families facing all the routines and crises of life – births, deaths, childrearing, divorce – far from home, relatives, and friends, in an unfamiliar and sometimes unfriendly country and culture.

Realities of Foreign Service Life provides reflections and perspectives on the realities of Foreign Service life as experienced by members of the Foreign Service community around the world. The writers share their unvarnished views on a wide variety of topics they care about: maintaining long-distance relationships, raising teens abroad, dealing with depression, coping with evacuations, readjusting to life in the United States, and many others. These are stories from the diplomatic trenches – true experiences from those who have lived the lifestyle and want to share their hard-learned lessons with others.

Authors and editors of Realities of the Foreign Service Life, Vol. 2

Authors and editors of AAFSW’s Realities of Foreign Service Life, Volume 2: Back row: John Hosinski, Joanne Cummings, Ann Greenberg, Pat Olsen, Mette Beecroft.. Front row: Faye Barnes, Douglas Kerr, Patricia Linderman, Melissa Brayer Hess, Kelly Bembry Midura.

If you are new to the Foreign Service, the books will offer insights and practical information useful in your overseas tours and when you return home. Even if you are a seasoned veteran of the Foreign Service, the reports and reflections of others may encourage you to compare and evaluate your own experiences. If you (or your partner) are contemplating joining the Foreign Service, they can serve as a reality check, giving you honest, personal perspectives on both the positive and negative aspects of Foreign Service life. If you are a student wondering what the Foreign Service is all about, this book will broaden your knowledge and provide you with an insider’s view not found in any textbook. All purchases of Realities of Foreign Service Life will help fund AAFSW’s activities and services.

This is the kind of book we all wish we could have read before joining the Foreign Service. With an abundance of charm and local color, it offers insights, encouragement, and practical tips to officers faced with their first Embassy posting, whether alone or encumbered with kids, pets, partners, and grandmother’s china. On the other hand, some of us would never have joined if we had read this volume before signing up. Its beauty is that it presents embassy life in all of its aspects-the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Marilyn Wyatt (former Foreign Service officer and current FS spouse)

About the Editors:

Co-editors Melissa Brayer-Hess, Patricia Linderman and Marlene Monfiletto Nice are longtime members of the U.S. Foreign Service community. Brayer-Hess is currently Deputy Director in the Crisis Management Training Division of the Leadership and Management School, National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Arlington, Virginia. Linderman is Editor in Chief of Tales from a Small Planet,, and Monfiletto Nice, a former newspaper reporter and editor, accompanied her husband to three overseas posts before becoming a Foreign Service officer herself in 2005.

Brayer-Hess and Linderman have also co-authored the book The Expert Expatriate: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad (Nicholas Brealey Intercultural, 2002-2007).

For more first-hand accounts of life in the Foreign Service, check out “Frontline Diplomacy,” a large collection of oral histories transcribed by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training now available at the Library of Congress website.

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