Career Diplomacy

Life and Work in the US Foreign Service

Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland

An all-new edition of the candid insiders’ guide to the US Foreign Service as an institution, a profession, and a career
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An all-new edition of the candid insiders’ guide to the US Foreign Service as an institution, a profession, and a career

Career Diplomacy takes readers inside the world of American diplomats in the US Foreign Service. Members of the Foreign Service represent the country abroad, protect and support American citizens overseas, manage government programs and facilities, and move foreign policy from the abstract to the actual. In this new and thoroughly revised edition, Foreign Service veterans Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland lay out what to expect in a Foreign Service career, from the entrance exam through midcareer and into the senior service—how to get in, get around, and get ahead.

Part one begins with the history and structure of the US Foreign Service in the Department of State and other agencies. Part two looks at a number of professional challenges, including how to be a diplomat in a war zone and how to respond when what the government demands conflicts with what the Constitution requires or one’s conscience compels. In part three, the authors explore the trajectory of a Foreign Service career through their own experiences and through interviews with more than a hundred current and former members. Part four brings the discussion up to the present and looks to the future, describing a Service emerging from the Trump years determined to improve diversity in its workforce, protect a high standard of nonpolitical public service, and reward performance with responsibility.

This best-selling guide demystifies the US Foreign Service for those interested in working within or alongside the institution. Kopp and Naland offer readers a candid look at the profession, with its dangers, rewards, challenges, frustrations, and excitement.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


Part I. The Institution

1. What Is the Foreign Service?

2. History

3. Diversity and Inclusion

4. The Foreign Service at the Department of State

5. Other Agencies: USAID, Commerce, Agriculture

Part II. The Profession

6. Form and Content

7. Duty and Danger

8. Politics and Professionalism

9. Team Players

Part III. The Career

10. Getting In

11. Career Trajectory

Part IV. The Future Foreign Service

12. Tomorrow’s Diplomats


Online Resources





About the Authors


"Harry Kopp and John Naland's Career Diplomacy was an instant classic, and the new fourth edition brings in important new material from the Trump years. It is the only basic book on US diplomacy that includes both a broad historical perspective and a wealth of very detailed and specific information on how the institution and the profession function. And they have made it a delightful read as well–a breath of fresh air in what is often regarded as a staid and stuffy profession."—Hon. Teresita Schaffer, ambassador to Sri Lanka and director of the Foreign Service Institute

"Anyone contemplating a career in national security should read this book. Not only does Career Diplomacy offer vital personal advice, but it also candidly illustrates the sometimes rocky process by which diplomats and ambassadors in the field interact with other agencies to carry out America's foreign policy."—Hon. Anne Patterson, former assistant secretary of state and ambassador to Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, and El Salvador

"This latest edition of Career Diplomacy improves upon the already high standard set by earlier versions and will be valuable to anyone studying the history and practice of American diplomacy and those interested in the State Department as an institution."—Parameters


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Harry W. Kopp, a former Foreign Service officer, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for international trade policy in the Carter and Reagan administrations.

John K. Naland, who had a distinguished twenty-nine-year career in the Foreign Service, is now a part-time lecturer at the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. He is a former president of the American Foreign Service Association.

280 pp., 6 x 9
1 figur, 12 tables
Nov 2021

280 pp., 6 x 9
1 figur, 12 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-135-8
Nov 2021

280 pp.
1 figur, 12 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-136-5
Nov 2021

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