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Distinguished Service: Lydia Chapin Kirk, Partner in Diplomacy, 1896-1984

Distinguished Service: Lydia Chapin Kirk, Partner in Diplomacy, 1896-1984 (Hardback)

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When her husband is offered the assignment of U.S. Naval attache in London in 1939, Lydia Chapin Kirk packs up her family and embarks on a lifelong journey, one in which she becomes a firsthand witness to the extraordinary world events of her time. Kirk's historical memoir offers a fascinating portrait of a remarkable life, told first from the perspective of a young girl in Erie, Pennsylvania, Paris, and Washington before World War I, and then from her husband's postings as U.S. naval attache and then as U.S. ambassador to Belgium, the Soviet Union, and Taiwan during the cold war. She brings alive the unique challenges and complex managerial and social responsibilities of a diplomat's spouse, especially when facing the perils of looming war, the challenges of Stalin's Moscow, and lengthy separations from her husband and children. An accomplished author of four books published in the 1950s and 1970s, Lydia Kirk captures the places and times in which she lived, the youthful adventures and wartime disruptions. With colorful prose and vivid detail, she offers recollections of such prominent people as President Theodore Roosevelt, Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Kirk has an artist's eye for her surroundings, revealing candid perceptions of human nature. Here is the story of a woman of consequence living through a transitional time when wives' roles were different than they are now. Her memoir gives voice to the many strong women of her generation whose untold contributions will inspire readers of all backgrounds.

Roger Kirk served as U.S. ambassador to Somalia and Romania, as well as ambassador to the U.N. Organizations in Vienna. After retiring from the State Department in 1990, he taught at Georgetown University and now serves as vice chair of a Washington, D.C., think tank. He is coauthor of Romania and the United States: Diplomacy of the Absurd, 1985-1989.

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