Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Mossy Memoir of a Rolling Stone

Back to Memoirs and Occasional Papers

Mossy Memoir of a Rolling Stone

“A joyful and fascinating account of a distinguished and devoted Foreign Service couple who served in Russia, Central Africa, and Washington. The reader will find unique insights into the historical times of the Cold War and beyond and a gold mine of reflections on the Soviet era in Moscow and Leningrad, where Americans and Russians vied for advantage. The Buchanans were examples of the very best in the Foreign Service.”

ARY MATTHEWS, U.S. Ambassador (ret.)

THOMPSON BUCHANAN’S memoir describes the challenges facing a Foreign Service political officer during the Cold War in a career focused primarily on the Soviet Union and Africa. Born in 1924, Thompson Buchanan joined the State Department in 1948 as an intelligence analyst on the Soviet Union. In the Foreign Service from 1955, he was posted in Frankfurt interrogating defectors; served in Paris as a Soviet adviser to NATO; worked in Washington on preventing Soviet infiltration of Africa; and headed the Foreign Political Section in Embassy Moscow.

After serving as DCM in Burundi (where radical Tutsis expelled him and his ambassador) and in Gabon, he was chief of personnel in the Africa Bureau, then chief of the Central Africa Office. Back in European affairs, he was deputy to the chief of Soviet affairs; political counselor in Moscow; DCM in Oslo; and consul general in Leningrad. Retiring in 1981, he worked on intelligence contracts for State and in Moscow for the INS and USAID.

Readers will also find stories of Buchanan’s early life, his education, his service in World War II in the V-12 program and Germany; family adventures in Jackson Hole and Provence; and thoughts about life in the Foreign Service, the practice of diplomacy; and the final journey.

“Russian cab drivers, Tsarist palaces, Kremlin leaders, Foggy Bottom, and the African jungle––they are all here in Tom Buchanan’s witty and fast-paced memoir of a fascinating life in the Foreign Service. As one of our most experienced Russia specialists, Buchanan was on hand in Washington, Moscow, and Leningrad for many momentous Cold War events. His frank and absorbing account and advice for the future are well worth reading.”
EDWARD HURWITZ, U.S. Ambassador (ret.)