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The Ambassador: Inside the Life of a Working Diplomat (Capital Currents) Hardcover – 1 Apr 2006

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4 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from the U.S.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very illuminating 28 Oct. 2013
By Jon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is focused on Jan Eliasson, a Swedish diplomat, and was written during his stint as US ambassador from 2000-2005. If you were looking for "a biography of a job rather than of an individual" as the review in the Amazon description suggests, you're going to be disappointed, as this book is the exact opposite.

But before I get ahead of myself, lets start with the basics: the writing in this book is atrocious. It's repetitive, tedious, and has no depth. The subject is covered in only the most superficial sense, with the majority of the work devoted to an amateurish hagiography of Eliasson. The first ten pages are literally nothing but a collection of complimentary adjectives describing the ambassador, only occasionally interrupted by punctuation marks.

As an example:
"He can take over a room or fade into the background, depending on what the situation requires. He enjoys being at the center of things, but he has a keen sense of what each situation requires. With equal, he can play Clark Kent or Superman. He is charming and exuberant and laughs easily. He is an excellent mimic who can do a wonderful Henry Kissinger imitation. But when tired or frustrated or angry, he can be cool, cryptic, and cranky."

The author, John Shaw, fills endless chapters with this fluff. On page 70 a picture of the author and the ambassador appears, completely unrelated to any of the surrounding text. This is like reading an account of two vain men trapped together in a limosuine for 12 hours. It's a book filled almost entirely with small talk and inconsequential anecdotes.

The second half of the book is an improvement, with a brief discussion of the mediation process, but still ends up digressing into irrelevance at times with several pages taken up with the layout of Sweden's embassy, how big its embassies are in other countries, how may employees there are, the construction of a new embassy in Washington, etc....

Overall the book remains unfocused and unsure if it's a farewell speech for a friend, an analysis of modern diplomacy, or a profile of Sweden's relationship with the US. It succeeds at none of those.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to be a good ambassador 24 May 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I suppose the foreign service has a manual and other training materials on how to be a good ambassador, but I haven't found anything like that published for the general public. Absent other advice, you can use Jan Eliasson as described in this book as a model to emulate.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars international networking - advanced class 14 Feb. 2007
By J. jingozian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Had the benefit of seeing the author and subject at a DC event , so must say from the outset, that this may have an unfair advantage.

Shaw does a fine job, capturing the essence of Eliasson's modus operandi and how that translates into cognitive and situational connectedness.

The book is a "how to" and ""why you should" parlay networking skills to enable a greater good.

Though written from the POV of an Ambassador in international settings and circumstances, I got the impression that if one picks up on the themes and techniques - one could improve one's lot in life personally, career, and in business, overall.

Enjoyed the blunt, straight forward, A-political nature of the discussions, and picked up (learned ) where the Ambassador stopped short of going to far, after he had made his point.

Excellent insite into how/why certain international situations happenned, and gives suggestions as to how some may have been avoided, without sounding like a monday morning quarterback. More. like lesssons for us to observe for the next time.
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