MEMOIRS OF A FOREIGN SERVICE ARABIST

MEMOIRS OF A FOREIGN SERVICE ARABIST

Richard B. Parker

New Academia Publishing/VELLUM Books, 2013
290 Pages, 17 photos
ISBN 978-0-9886376-6-5 paperback

See inside for an excerpt from the book

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$26.00 paperback

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About the author

The late Richard Bordeaux Parker (1923–2011), a thirty-one-year veteran of the Foreign Service, spoke fluent Arabic and climaxed his career in the 1970s as U.S. ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco. Retiring in 1980, he continued to share his deep expertise in Arab culture––as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of Virginia, as editor of the Middle East Journal, and as author of seven books on the region. Among these were North Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns, 1987; The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East, 1993; The Six-Day War: A Retrospective, 1996; The October War, 2001; and Uncle Sam in Barbary: A Diplomatic History, 2004.

About the book

Dick Parker was renowned in the State Department for his acerbic wit. From his early youth on U.S. Cavalry posts across the Southwest to his World War II experiences, through a successful Foreign Service career as a leading Arabist in the Near East, he observed and commented on everything. He recounts his experiences as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Europe, acting with inadequate information, outmoded weaponry, and half-trained personnel (including himself) and describes the confusion in the Battle of the Bulge, fighting the enemy with no clear guidance from superiors or any indication that the Germans were closing in. Then came months as a German prisoner of war, exhaustion, sickness, and forced POW marches from Germany to Poland, meeting Russians coming the other way. Postwar, he completes his education and begins life as a career diplomat.

 

Parker comments, often with wry humor, on the people and times around him, the thorny Middle East issues he dealt with, and the foreign and domestic potentates with whom he dealt. He recounts problems faced by Foreign Service families in difficult, often dangerous conditions while coping with a sometimes thoughtless, impersonal bureaucracy at home. He writes of hands-on diplomacy during critical periods in US relations during his (sometimes perilous) service in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and, as U.S.ambassador, in Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco. Especially revealing are his encounters with King Hassan II and Reza Shah Pahlavi and his entourage. Throughout, Dick Parker’s personal touch gives striking immediacy to his fascinating autobiography.

 

This  is a book in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series.

To order from ADST email: admin@adst.org

Praise

“Replete with insights and intriguing details about the formation and execution of America’s Middle East policy, Parker’s memoir is a useful addition to 1960s–1990s history and an authoritative look into the practical problems facing an active diplomat trying to carry out (and shape) his government’s policy in fast-moving and sometimes dangerous situations.”

―Ambassador Gordon Brown (retired).

 

“Among Parker’s fascinating insights into history are his comments on what lay behind the deterioration of U.S.-Egyptian relations before the 1967 Egyptian-Israeli war. His vivid account of a special mission to Yemen sheds light on how Yemeni issues complicated U.S. relations with Egypt
and Saudi Arabia. His many insights and ‘pen-portraits’ contribute to history and keep the book moving along.”

―Ronald E. Neumann, President American Academy of Diplomacy.