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

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Overview

An intimate glimpse into life in the diplomatic corps, recalling pre-World War II London, Moscow during the early days of the Cold War, and Taiwan after the split from Mao Tse-tung's China.

When her husband is offered the assignment of U.S. Naval attaché 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 attaché 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.

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Editorial Reviews

The International History Review
Lydia Chapin Kirk's memoir presents a fascinating portrait of a remarkable life beginning in Erie, Pennsylvania, travelling to Paris and Washington before the First World War, and continuing on with her husband's posting in London and later when he became US ambassador to Belgium, the Soviet Union, and then to Taiwan during the cold war.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815608912
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Series: ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents


Illustrations     ix
Foreword   Robert Orris Blake     xi
Preface   Roger Kirk     xiii
Early Life, 1896-1939
Beginnings, 1896-1908     3
Paris, 1908-1911     13
The United States and Paris, 1911-1913     25
At Home in the United States, 1914-1938     36
London, 1939-1940
On the Threshold of War in England, 1939     55
Wartime England, 1939-1940     73
The United States, 1940-1946
Washington Before Pearl Harbor, 1940-1941     97
America at War, 1941-1946     106
Belgium, 1946-1949
A Good Start in Brussels, 1946     125
Belgium, the Balkans, and a Royal Visit, 1946-1949     146
The Soviet Union, 1949-1951
Behind the Dreaded Iron Curtain, 1949     171
Making It Work in Moscow, 1950-1951     196
The Republic of China, 1962-1963
A Flattering but Unwelcome Assignment, 1962     219
A Mission and a Life Cut Short, 1962-1963     234
Postscript, 1963-1984
Final Years   Roger kirk     251
Index     263
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