Category Archives: Books

Garry Wills’ Qur’an (Part One)

Is Islam as American as apple pie?  Both are early imports from Asia Minor – Islam from the Arabian Peninsula by way of Africa and Iberia, apples from southern Kazakhstan by way of Europe – that have grown deep roots … Continue reading

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Belief from the inside out

Carla Power’s Pulitizer Prize-shortlisted If the Oceans Were Ink, an outsider’s meditation on The Holy Qur’an with the help of a learned Islamic scholar, signals a subtle but seismic shift in our intellectual world.  It joins other unmistakable indications that mostly secular Western … Continue reading

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Joan Didion, Californian

Joan Didion seized my attention early, before I wrote for myself.  Assigned “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” in high school, I read with amazement her cool, detached descriptions of things I recognized growing up in California.  I graduated quickly to “The White … Continue reading

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What LEGO Taught Me

For my birthday my wife bought me the LEGO kit Benny’s Spaceship.  For anyone who’s seen The Lego Movie you’ll get the joke. It’s the outrageous monster outer space cruiser the little blue 1980s LEGO astronaut with the busted helmet … Continue reading

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New Book Review: “Through a Screen Darkly”

I’m happy to post my review of Martha Bayles’ recent book on public diplomacy, Through a Screen Darkly, published this month in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy by Clingendael in The Netherlands.  The article is behind a pay wall but should be available … Continue reading

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To Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Not far outside Paris stands one of the many monuments to the almost innumerable dead of World War I. This one is not unusual marking the graves of the many Americans who fought and died on European soil during that conflict. … Continue reading

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What I Learned Studying the Qur’an (II)

(Read Part I Here) This winter, during a period of unemployment, I studied the Qur’an at the Howard University School of Divinity. Here’s more of what I learned. The Book is a Conversation I can attest for those of us on … Continue reading

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Religion, politics, and public diplomacy

Today my interview with the Public Diplomacy Council — the association of retired US Information Agency and Foreign Service Officers involved in public diplomacy activities — was published online. I talked to Donald Bishop about my recent book and some … Continue reading

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Some Dreamers of the Impossible Dream

With nods to George Kennan, Joan Didion, and Cervantes, enjoy this excerpt from my book, The United States and the Challenge of Public Diplomacy about an extraordinary visit I made to Macedonia in 2006 published in The Foreign Service Journal. Although I wrote … Continue reading

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John Steinbeck, Californian

From The Log from the Sea of Cortez: I was sitting in a dentist’s waiting room in New Monterey, hoping the dentist had died. I had a badly aching tooth and not enough money to have a good job done on … Continue reading

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