True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office
The British Foreign Office is famous, venerable and misunderstood. While its public face is one of grandeur and formality, its inner workings are shrouded in mystery. Now, for the first time, the Foreign Office has opened its doors to the BBC: in this book, and the television series which it accompanies, we can find out what life is really like for those who represent the UK abroad or serve ministers at home.
Ruth Dudley Edwards has visited posts in seventeen different countries – in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America – and has listened as hundreds of diplomats, at home and abroad, talked about their work and their lives. Among hte many issues she considers are what diplomats do and how they do it, why it is a difficult job for a woman, how the Foreign Office compares with the other foreign services, and why Britain seems out on a limb in Europe. She looks at diplomats doing work which ranges from negotiating complicated deals in Brussels to visiting drug traffickers in Bangkok and dealing with death in Delhi. Throughout the book the author captures the heady excitement that can go with being a diplomat, but shows too how gruelling can be the demands the life makes on diplomats and their families.
True Brits is a fascinating account of what life is like behind the scenes in one of our greatest institutions. Above all it raises two important questions for the United Kingdom. What sort of diplomatic service do we want? Are we prepared to pay for it?