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Dancing with the Stars…And Stripes in the Congo

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 […]

Captive in the Congo

Back to Diplomats and Diplomacy Captive in the Congo: A Consul’s Return to the Heart of Darkness “Hoyt’s book is a gripping and well-documented tale of U.S. relations with the remnants of the Belgian Congo during the 1964 Simba rebellion in Stanleyville. A deftly written account of an American diplomat’s experiences while held hostage by […]

A Whole New World: Life as a New Foreign Service Spouse

Life as a Foreign Service spouse is constantly evolving, particularly for Foreign Service wives. While the State Department is now having active conversations about how to best support women and families, in earlier days, women’s needs were not always considered a priority. Wives of ambassadors especially bore the brunt of this unfortunate reality. They were […]

An Embassy in Brazzaville During the Time of Independence

Prior to mid-August 1960, the United States had limited diplomatic activity in the French African colonies. However, within a 48-hour time span, Alan Wood Lukens, the U.S. Consul in Brazzaville, suddenly had plenty to do when the French announced a rapid withdrawal from their African colonies. This action suddenly promoted him de facto as the […]

Thanksgiving: How U.S. Diplomats Celebrate an American Tradition Around the World

Gobble, gobble!  Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday —  one that U.S. embassies, foreign service families, and American expats of all kinds celebrate around the world.  We dipped into our oral history collection for some Thanksgiving memories. At its best, Thanksgiving is a celebration of food, family, friends, and cross-cultural exchange and understanding.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Frank Carlucci: Helping Block the Communists in Portugal

After decades of right-wing dictatorship, Portugal faced a threat of a takeover by communists in the mid-1970s.  Ambassador Frank Carlucci, who went on to become Secretary of Defense, headed up efforts to prevent the first loss of a NATO member state to the alliance’s political and ideological foes.  That meant engaging with parties and politicians […]