Diversifying Diplomacy

**Thank you, NetGalley for a chance to review this book.**

I spend most of my time reading fiction, especially fantasy. When I take the time to read nonfiction, I choose memoirs and biographies. There are so many interesting people in this world. The life and times of Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas made for an incredible read. I cannot even imagine the inner strength she has to do everything she has done. As I was reading this, it was easy to be transferred to her life and walk in her shoes. Her narrative voice made this story easy to read. She shared a good balance of facts and story so I was never bored while I read it.

Today, diverse women of all hues represent this country overseas. Some have called this development the “Hillary Effect.” But well before our most recent female secretary of state there was Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve in that capacity, and later Condoleezza Rice. Beginning at a more junior post in the Department of State in 1971, there was “the little Elam girl” from Boston.
Diversifying Diplomacy tells the story of Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas, a young black woman who beat the odds and challenged the status quo. Inspired by the strong women in her life, she followed in the footsteps of the few women who had gone before her in her effort to make the Foreign Service reflect the diverse faces of the United States. The youngest child of parents who left the segregated Old South to raise their family in Massachusetts, Elam-Thomas distinguished herself with a diplomatic career at a time when few colleagues looked like her.
Elam-Thomas’s memoir is a firsthand account of her decades-long career in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service, recounting her experiences of making U.S. foreign policy, culture, and values understood abroad. Elam-Thomas served as a United States ambassador to Senegal (2000–2002) and retired with the rank of career minister after forty-two years as a diplomat. Diversifying Diplomacypresents the journey of this successful woman, who not only found herself confronted by some of the world’s heftier problems but also helped ensure that new shepherds of honesty and authenticity would follow in her international footsteps for generations to come.





  1. I’m not a lover of memoirs/biographies as the most I tend to see are about movie/music stars and they don’t interest me. However Harriet’s story sounds very empowering and most certainly interesting.

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