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Nine Lives

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Nine Lives: A Foreign Service Odyssey

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. public diplomacy has come under increased scrutiny along with renewed debate about its necessity. Until 1999, the United States Information Agency (USIA) was responsible for what is now called “public diplomacy,” conducting media, cultural, and educational exchange programs. Nine Lives recounts successful public diplomacy programs that could offer valuable lessons for current and future public diplomacy practitioners. It discusses terrorism, narcotics trafficking, Islamic customs and beliefs, and how each post differs in accordance with U.S. foreign policy objectives at the time.

Allen Hansen’s memoir depicts the excitement, frustration, satisfactions, and glamour of his Foreign Service career with the USIA in nine countries to which he was posted during the Cold War. Each chapter provides informative insight on the host country’s relationship with the United States and outlines the objectives and programs of the U.S. Information Service (USIS, the agency’s overseas name). Hansen recounts the achievements or lack thereof of American and local personnel and shares vivid anecdotes about professional colleagues from the Department of State and other agencies. Intrigue, coups d’etat, civil war, a murder in Montevideo, and breathtaking, at times harrowing, adventures surround his global odyssey to exotic locales.

Allen C. Hansen joined USIA as a member of its second junior officer training clas in 1954, a year after the agency’s creation. As a Foreign Service officer for 32 years, he served in nine countries and, periodically, in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1987 and has authored five books.