Moments Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History category.

The Cairo Fire of 1952






The Cairo Fire, also known as Black Saturday, was a series of riots that took place on January 26, 1952, marked by the burning and looting of some 750 buildings and the country’s Opera House in downtown Cairo. It was triggered by the killing of 50 Egyptian auxiliary policemen by British occupation troops a day […]






Dancing with the Stars…And Stripes






Michael Rives joined the Foreign Service in 1950 and served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Brazzaville from 1963 to 1966.  In this excerpt from his oral history, he remembers the rather unforgettable Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  G. Mennen Williams, whose grandfather, Gerhard Heinrich Mennen, founded the Mennen line of men’s personal […]






“It was an Unwinnable War”






George Ball was the Under Secretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.  He supported the 1963 overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1968, where he passionately criticized the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. However, he is most known for his […]






A Moveable Feast with Julia Child






Julia Child, who would have celebrated her 100th birthday on August 15, 2012, was a pioneer in bringing French cuisine to Americans at a time when most people were content with white bread and TV dinners.  But before she rose to prominence, she had served in the OSS during World War II and experienced the […]






A Hostage in Communist China, 1948-49






As Mao Zedong’s People’s Liberation Army swept through China during the Civil War against the Nationalists in 1948 and 1949, it took over Mukden (now Shenyang), a major trade center. The Communists demanded that American Consul Angus Ward surrender the consulate’s radio transmitter. Ward refused. In response, PLA troops surrounded the consulate on November 20, 1948, putting Ward […]






An Itch for Politics






Politics can be a tough, even nasty business. James Jones describes an incident before he joined the Foreign Service when he worked as part of the advance team for Lady Bird Johnson and how one colleague had an unusual idea to dissuade unfriendly protesters. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy ADST starting in September […]






An Episode Right Out of “Get Smart”






Harry Barnes had a distinguished Foreign Service career spanning 35 years, serving as Ambassador to India, Romania and most notably Chile.  In this excerpt from his oral history, Ambassador Barnes recounts a story of surveillance and footwear in Romania that was mentioned in his Washington Post obituary.






Blood On Ice






On the night of 20–21 August 1968, the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in order to quash the liberal reforms instituted by Alexander Dubcek during the Prague Spring. Over 200,000 troops and 5,000 tanks were sent in and were able to occupy the country the very first day. The […]






CSI: Sao Paulo — The Search for the Angel of Death






Stephen F. Dachi had one of the more unusual — and as it turned out, fateful — backgrounds of anyone in the Foreign Service. Born in Hungary in 1933, he was three years old when his parents died, leaving him in the care of his grandparents in Romania. After emigrating to the U.S., he became a […]






The U.S. Embassy Nairobi Bombings






It was one of the most horrific events in U.S. diplomatic history. On August 7, 1998, between 10:30 and 10:40 a.m. local time, suicide bombers parked trucks loaded with explosives outside the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi and almost simultaneously detonated them. In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 […]






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