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Ever the Diplomat: Confessions of a Foreign Office Mandarin by [Cowper-Coles, Sherard]
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Ever the Diplomat: Confessions of a Foreign Office Mandarin Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Length: 336 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

‘It is a modern history from an insider’s perspective… with a self-effacing tone and dash of wit’ The Independent on Sunday

‘A fascinating picture of a career in which sipping martinis under chandeliers is a less frequent occurrence than strapping on a flak jacket’ Country Life

‘Cowper-Coles writes extremely well… Mostly fun and often acute’ Sunday Times

‘Written in the style of an adventure story… [There are] amusing, often self-deprecatory anecdotes… and plenty of serious moments’ Financial Times

About the Author

Sherard Cowper-Coles is one of the most respected authorities on foreign affairs in the country. He has held a string of high-profile diplomat posts, both in the UK and overseas, most recently as the British Ambassador to Kabul and the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 12504 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007YVOPS6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,769 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After a lifetime career in the Foreign Office, one can hardly expect anything else. And it would have been nice to know what was taken out before publication at the request of all that checked it first

However, there is among these pages much of the common sense and logic that for some reason always escapes our politicians (and a fair few of the civil servants that advise them)

As a lifetime student of politics (and still learning) the venerable Foreign Office has always seemed to me to be in a world of its own, invoking the wrath of virtually every Prime Minister I can remember. Of those who are appointed or re-shuffled into the Secretary of State's room many are accused of "going native" and this book does give an inkling of why that happens

The incisive lessons of British Foreign policy are laid out for all who are prepared to think about how not to repeat history. Palestine. Iraq. But most of all, Afghanistan

Certainly worth a read
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Format: Audio Download Verified Purchase
Sherard Cowper-Coles was a British Diplomat recruited directly from Oxford University on the fast-stream entry scheme in 1977. "Ever The Diplomat" is an excellent memoir which details memorable events during his 30+ year career, working for Her Majesty's Government, including his first day as a nervous 22 year old starting out in the Foreign Office in London before going on postings around the world

Not only is this audiobook a very interesting memoir of Mr Cowper-Coles but it is also of interest because the book describes how the Foreign office works both at home in it's dealings with other key government departments such as the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence and overseas where it represents the interests of Britain both in terms of government policy and supporting it's nationals who find themselves in difficulties.

Mr Cowper-Coles had a varied career as he rose through the ranks of the Foreign Service both at home and overseas. At the start he was trained as an arabist and therefore spent much of his career in the middle east, but he also had postings in Paris and London. He was present during key events, he was in Cairo, Egypt in 1981 when President Sadat was assassinated and later Paris in 1997 at the time of Princess Diana's death. As Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2004 he dealt with incident in which BBC cameraman, Simon Cumbers was shot dead, and his colleague, Frank Gardener, BBC Security Correspondent was paralysed. His final posting in Afghanistan commenced in 2007 as Ambassador he was once again plunged into a country in the grips of insurgency.

During the book Cowper-Coles draws on his vast experience to make some very valid points, particularly in respect of terror and insurgency.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very indepth and personal view of the FCO. He comes over very down to earth for the job he did.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cowper-Coles has the happy knack of being able to write a funny anecdote. The book is packed with them, but he also gives a real insight into what life is actually like for Foreign Office diplomats at all levels. We join him as a junior diplomat running errands in the Middle East, then follow him up the greasy pole as he works for the Foreign Secretary, and still higher as he becomes Ambassador to Israel and Saudi Arabia. We learn of the office intrigues, the shadowy MI6 figures who operate on the fringes of diplomatic life, the occasionally comical encounters with locals, and the whims and differing personalities of the key political figures diplomats work to. Cowper-Coles worked for Robin Cook. We learn of Cook's qualities but also of his frailties; his power but also the limitations of that power. This really is a tremendous book for anyone interested in diplomacy or geopolitics generally.
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By J. Baldwin VINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on the author's experience, spanning some 32 years, working as a diplomat in Egypt, the USA, Hong Kong, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and the intermittent spells in the Foreign Office in London. He disregarded advice he was given early in his career to `spend as little time as possible in distant or dangerous postings'. Cowper-Coles worked, as he puts it, `at the interface between domestic politics and international relations' and he provides a fascinating picture of the mysterious world of the Diplomatic Service. In this role, he witnessed at first hand some truly momentous events which have shaped the course of world history.

Although this is a very serious book, it is written with commendable good humour and lack of cynicism. Cowper-Coles seems to me to write with a smile on his face. He comes across not just as extremely able - diplomats are, after all, tested on their ability to learn Kurdish in an afternoon - but immensely likeable, good-natured and as a man of real integrity. When he offers his own views on political strategy (e.g. in relation to Afghanistan or the Middle East), they seem often much more sensible than those of the politicians he was advising. The politicians must nonetheless have hugely benefited from having someone so balanced, enthusiastic and dependable on their side.

Cowper-Coles was appointed as Britain's ambassador to Israel in 2001 (and subsequently in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan) yet . he rarely claims much credit for himself in this book.
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