I grew up in Barrington, a suburb of Chicago, almost as far as you could go and still be in the metropolitan area. I went to a Catholic school there for most of my primary education, as reflected in one of the stories in Impure Thoughts, then to Lake Forest Academy, not far away, and on to Northwestern University, where I did my first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science.
I then worked in Chicago, commuting from Barrington, a lifestyle I hated, and then moved into the city. I worked in various jobs, including Assistant Editor (one of several) for World Book Encyclopedia and Managing Editor for a trade magazine entitled Inland Printer and American Lithographer. Meanwhile, I spent seven years with the U.S. Naval Air Reserve attached to a squadron at the Glenview Naval Air Station near Chicago.
I joined the Foreign Service in 1961, serving with the U.S. Information Agency for 25 years in Brazil, Norway, Australia, and Washington. My positions included Press Attaché in Brazil, Cultural Attaché in Norway and Australia, and head of the Office of Congressional and Public Liaison in Washington. I am proud to have been awarded a Meritorious Service pay increase near the beginning of my service, two commendations when I was Press Attaché in Brazil, and a Career Achievement Award at the end of my time.
The Agency sponsored me for an academic year at Harvard where I earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration (M.P.A.). Then, several years later, I went on leave without pay, quitting the service temporarily, to get a Ph.D. at Cambridge University in diplomatic history (or history of international relations as it might be called in the U.S.). I returned to the service for some eight years, retiring in 1986.
Writing and Studying
Following my retirement, I spent a term as a Visiting Fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and three terms in the same capacity at Clare Hall, Cambridge in September 2010. In 1992 I became an Associate of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.
I have been writing more or less constantly since I left government service. I have concentrated heavily on history and public affairs, although in recent years I have become involved in writing and producing plays, in writing fiction, and even experimenting a bit with poetry.
Besides writing, I have been a consultant for various clients. I served as a Senior Historian at History Associates, Inc., working mostly on the legal aspects of environmental clean-up cases. I was also an adviser to the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, helping to explain the objectives and the history of American Diplomacy. In addition, at the request of the dean of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service I arranged for collections of more than 100 titles each on the practice and theory of diplomacy to be sent to the institutions that train diplomats in Eastern European countries and the then newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. The United States Information Agency handled the acquisition and shipping of the books. Earlier, I reviewed and critiqued plans for a large, multi-faceted program to celebrate the bicentennial ot the U.S. Senate, something I was asked to do by the Senate Historian, Dr. Richard Baker.
In September, 2013, I talked to students of American Government at the 400-year old Pearse School (K through 12th grade) in Cambridge, England, about guns in America. I tried to show how the issue involved the Constitution, all branches of the Federal Government, the states, and at least one powerful lobby.
I spoke at Clare Hall about Che Guevara’s ill-fated guerrilla campaign in Bolivia in 1966-67, showing its relationship to the war in Vietnam and the seriously misunderstood role of CIA in his defeat. I also have spoken about Guevara’s career at bookstores in regard to my book, The Fall of Che Guevara.
In 2010 I presented the topic of the book I am working on, The Homeland, at a lunchtime lecture at Clare Hall. It presents the background of the Jewish movement that resulted in the creation of Israel, beginning with the reign of Catherine the Great in Russia and ending with Israel’s independence in 1948.
My most recent volunteer activity has been with Palisades Village, an organization in my community, Palisades, in Washington, DC. It helps elderly or disabled neighbors handle the requirements of daily living without having to leave their homes and move to institutions. Volunteers help them get to medical appointments or to shops, and assist them with routine household tasks if required. In short, we do whatever we can to help them stay in their homes.
I have also done other volunteer work, mostly with the Saturday Learning Extension Program, a tutoring program for elementary school kids, which took place at two locations in Washington, D.C. on Saturday mornings. At its peak it included close to 100 children. I tutored at first and then helped run the program for several years, serving as director for three years, and was pleased to be presented with an award of appreciation upon leaving the organization. In addition, I have served as a volunteer in numerous political campaigns. These have included that of Michael Dukakis for President, Sharon Kelly for Mayor of Washington, DC; John Kerry for President, Jim Webb for Senator from Virginia, and, most recently, Barack Obama for President.
My wife, Patricia, has been with me and looking after my general well-being since our days in Chicago. When I tell people that I write, they often ask what my wife does, and I tell them that she does almost everything else. Our only child, William, was born in Rio de Janeiro and now, to my great pleasure, lives a few minutes away from us in Washington, D.C., with his second wife, Carla, and our new granddaughter, Annabelle.Our other granddaughter, Katie, who lived with her mother in Australia for twelve years, now lives with her father in Washington, DC, about 15 minutes from my wife and me, which delights me. I have an older brother, Webster, a great companion in my childhood and youth, but who I am sorry to say I now see only about once a year. He still lives in Barrington, the patriarch of a large family.