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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Next Mission: U.S. Defense Attaché to France: A Memoir from the Days of Punish France, Ignore Germany, Forgive Russia by Ralph Steinke is a fascinating military memoir with strong political and diplomatic themes. Ralph Steinke was assigned as a military attaché to France in one of the most turbulent periods in history and at a time when France was held in contempt by many superpowers. In this memoir, the author shares a story that embodies a strong sense of duty, the nuances of US foreign diplomacy, and the subtle art of wading in dangerous and murky political waters. The author shares personal stories, takes readers through family life, encounters with political characters and events and, above all, provides a compelling narrative that showcases the challenges of high-level diplomacy and the problems that accompany it.
While this is one person’s unique experience as a diplomat, the memoir provides insights into what US foreign policy is like and the art of diplomacy. There are moments of adventure, infused with strong emotions, and dilemmas in which important decisions are to be made. It is interesting how the protagonist balances his love of country and a keen sense of duty with his mission to create a positive relationship between the two countries, without playing down the respect that France deserves. Apart from being a great political figure, Ralph Steinke comes across as a great storyteller, creating strong images in the minds of readers and using a narrative voice that pulls them in and makes them feel as though they are next to the characters. Next Mission: U.S. Defense Attaché to France: A Memoir from the Days of Punish France, Ignore Germany, Forgive Russia is rich with historical references, engaging in its content, and compelling in the era it evokes.