I have been working for the Foreign Service for about six years now, so my opinion of Mr. Kralev's book may be a little biased. I think this is an excellent introduction into what the Foreign Service does, the realities of our work, the challenges we face, leadership shortcomings, and both successes and failures we have had in our recent history. Anyone who is considering joining the service should read this book first. I think it provides a realistic view of what you'll be doing, and not all of it is glamorous, adventurous, travel. All of us have hauled somebody's suitcases, or scrambled to find dinner reservations for a visiting official, or spent countless days stuck behind a computer in a cubicle trying to put final edits on a Congressional-mandated report. This is also an excellent book for anyone who is curious about how American diplomacy works (or doesn't). I particularly appreciated the section on consular work and the frustrations involved in helping American citizens. All of us have consular stories of being accused of wrong doing or not caring when the situation is often out of our control or American citizens are demanding we do things that are prohibited by law (but they don't generally know that, so they assume we simply choose not to help them.) It was refreshing to read both sides of the stories and hear the officer's point of view on the matter as well.
Because the FS is so small, it was interesting to read some personal anecdotes from officers I either knew or knew about. State Department employees or those familiar with the structure of the Foreign Service might find the first few chapters a little boring. Kralev does a good job of explaining how the department is structured, the process for getting into the service etc. It will be a review for some readers. However, forge on, because analysis and experiences really take up the last two thirds of the book and are worth the read.
Overall, I think this is a fair assessment of the service, and one of the best books I've read looking at contemporary diplomacy and the State Department. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what a foreign service officer does, to foreign service officers who are interested in how an outsider views our work, and to anyone interested in learning about the challenges and limitations of modern diplomacy. I wish every American citizen, and in particular every Congressman!!! read this book and understood the ideas presented by Mr. Kralev.