Veteran diplomatic correspondent Paul Richter goes behind the battles and the headlines to show how American ambassadors are the unconventional warriors in the Muslim world—running local government, directing drone strikes, nation-building, and risking their lives on the front lines.
The State Department’s heroes are the front-line diplomats who have been unheralded, but crucial in the line of national defense for two decades of wars in the Middle East. In The Ambassadors, Paul Richter shares the astonishing, true-life stories of four expeditionary diplomats who “do the hardest things in the hardest places.”
We’ll see Ryan Crocker’s effort to organize a new Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban, even threatening the life of a Pashtun warlord, a US ally, to ensure that a column of tanks could join US forces in the biggest battle of the Afghan war. Robert Ford, the sole American official for the province of Najaf in central Iraq, tries to restart the economy and deal with growing militia violence—and is taken hostage by a Shia militia. In Syria, he is chased by government thugs for defying the country’s ruler. J. Christopher Stevens is smuggled into Libya as U.S. Envoy to the rebels during its bloody civil war, then returns as ambassador only to be killed during a terror attach in Benghazi. War-zone veteran Anne Patterson is sent to Pakistan, considered the world’s most dangerous country, to broker deals that prevent a government collapse and to help guide the secret war on jihadists.
Richter’s account of the role of America’s diplomats in the wars in the Middle East and the Muslim world supplies a crucial and—until now—missing part of how these wars are being fought. An important addition to appreciating the roles of these diplomats, and an in-depth look into the complexity and length of these wars and nation-building, The Ambassadors is a critical piece of modern day history.
About the Author
Paul Richter has written about foreign policy and national security for three decades. As a Washington-based correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, he reported from sixty countries and appeared in US and international media. He covered the State Department for the Los Angeles Times from 2001 to 2015, and before that, the Pentagon and the White House. He was raised in the Washington, DC, area and Minneapolis, and graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is also the principal author of California and the American Tax Revolt: Prop 13 After Five Years. He lives in the Washington, DC area.
“An important and illuminating read.”
— The Washington Post
“At once inspiring, infuriating, and, as a chronicle of U.S. involvement in the [Middle East] region, deeply sad.”
— Foreign Affairs
“Richter provides a gripping, wistful, and ultimately inspiring portrait of the courage, patriotism, skill, and wisdom of America’s finest diplomats at a difficult hour for our country and profession.”
— Ambassador William J. Burns (ret.), former Deputy Secretary of State and President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
“The book captures an era in which Middle East policy was carried out by a robustly staffed diplomatic corps who may not have had all answers but were able to discern, better than most, ‘which of Washington’s decisions brought progress and which led to disaster.’”
— The New Yorker
“Paul Richter has done Americans a great service in reminding us of the need for a skilled, non-partisan career Ambassadorial corps at a dangerous moment in our history. The Ambassadors is a clarion call for the revival of the American Foreign Service gutted by the Trump Administration.”
— Ambassador Nicholas Burns (ret.), former Undersecretary of State and Harvard University professor
“Part intriguing spy story, gripping war story, and compassionate love story, the book brings the reader right into the action.”
— New York Journal of Books
“Paul Richter takes you on an enthralling ride through the dramatic and dangerous world of diplomacy. The Ambassadors is a story of courage and dedication during some of the most challenging and deadly times in our nation’s history. Grab it fast and dive in.”
— Martha J. Raddatz, Chief Global Affairs correspondent for ABC News and bestselling author of The Long Road Home
“An intriguing look at U.S. diplomats in the greater Middle East... “There are no ticker tape parades for diplomats,” a State Department official once said. This book gives them the recognition they deserve.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A compelling and poignant glimpse at an often-overlooked and misunderstood profession... easily digestible and meticulously researched.”
— Foreign Policy
“Finally, a book that captures the incredible courage, sacrifice and unwavering patriotism of the unsung heroes of the war on terrorism. They represent the very finest of the diplomatic corps and of America. Paul Richter has brilliantly portrayed these remarkable icons of the Foreign Service. A must-read for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy and what it takes to be an American hero!”
— Adm. William H. McRaven (ret.), former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and overseer of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden
“Fascinating reading to those curious how our nation’s best and brightest diplomats functioned amid upheaval abroad and political spin games at home.”
— The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star