Career Diplomacy | Life and Work in the Foreign Service, 2nd Edition – Now Out

Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service, Second Edition by Harry W. Kopp and Charles A. Gillespie is now out.

“Career Diplomacy—now in its second edition—is an insider’s guide that examines the foreign service as an institution, a profession, and a career. Harry W. Kopp and Charles A. Gillespie, both of whom had long and distinguished careers in the foreign service, provide a full and well-rounded picture of the organization, its place in history, its strengths and weaknesses, and its role in American foreign affairs. Based on their own experiences and through interviews with over 100 current and former foreign service officers and specialists, the authors lay out what to expect in a foreign service career, from the entrance exam through midcareer and into the senior service—how the service works on paper, and in practice.”

It’s probably the best book out there to give you just the right flavor of foreign service life and work.

Quick notes on the authors:

Harry Koppis a former foreign service officer and consultant in international trade. Kopp was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for international trade policy in the Carter and Reagan administrations. His foreign assignments included Warsaw and Brasília. He received meritorious and superior honor awards from the Department of State and a meritorious service award from President Reagan. Kopp left the foreign service in 1985. He is now president of Harry Kopp, LLC, a consulting company, and Venture Factors, Inc., a division of Zabaleta and Company. Kopp has published in The New York Times and many other publications. He also wrote Commercial Diplomacy and the National Interest (American Academy of Diplomacy and the Business Council for International Understanding, 2004). More information about Mr. Kopp can be found at:

Tony Gillespie } Charles A. Gillespie entered the foreign service in 1965 and retired in 1995. His career included assignments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs; American ambassador to Grenada, Colombia, and Chile, and Special Assistant to the President on the National Security Council Staff. He received meritorious and superior honor awards from the State Department. After retiring, Gillespie joined The Scowcroft Group, a consulting company. He was a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Business Council for International Understanding, and the Forum for International Policy. Gillespie passed away March 7, 2008. (Read his obituary in the Boston Globe or the LA Times ).

A good description of the book contents is here.

Q&A is also available here. Includes some interesting nuggets like those posted below:

How do you “manage up”?

Answer: In the foreign service or any other hierarchy, you want to make the boss look good. Managing up means giving the boss what the boss wants, adapting to the boss’s style, and making his or her work easier, more effective, and less time-consuming.

A personal example: My first day on the job as deputy chief of mission at a large embassy, the ambassador told me my role. “It’s your job to know what I’m doing and thinking,” he said, “but it’s not my job to tell you.” He was telling me to manage up.

Why do consular officers still get looked down upon by some other cones?

Answer: I am tempted to put up some bumf denying this in-house snobbery, but the truth is that within the foreign service, the political cone enjoys the most prestige, the consular and management cones the least. Political work is generally considered more glamorous, not because it is conducted in the swank capitals of Europe (where in fact its prestige is in decline), but because foreign service officers themselves consider it more tightly linked to issues of national security and high policy than other foreign service work. The political cone produces the most ambassadors.
More information about Career Diplomacy, Second Edition can be found at the Georgetown University Press’s website at

Check out the book’s website here.