The Memoirs of Ambassador J. Graham Parsons: A Foreign Service Life
This book presents the memoirs of the late well-known and highly respected US diplomat J. Graham Parsons, who served in pre-war Japan, China, and Cuba, Canada and Washington, DC, during World War II, and postwar India, Japan, Laos, and Sweden among other assignments. As the memoir makes clear, Ambassador Parsons interacted with some of the most famous figures in 20th century politics and diplomacy. Scholars have accused him of being a hawk, but the reader will discover he was more nuanced than that. He was loyal to his employer, and thus reflected the policies, but not necessarily the politics, of a particular administration. Indeed, he was a traditional diplomat of the old school, and expressed concerns in the concluding chapter about how diplomacy—specifically, the State Department—was evolving and the over-politicization of American foreign policy prior to his passing in 1991, just shy of his 84th year.
J. Graham Parsons was born in 1907 in New York City, and attended Groton, Yale University, and New York University Business School. After working on Wall Street, he served as personal secretary to the US Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew. He then joined the American Foreign Service in 1936. His early posts included Havana, Mukden, Manchuria (at the outbreak of WWII), Ottawa, Vatican, and New Delhi. His principal posts included Minister (often Chargé), Tokyo, 1953-56; Ambassador to Laos, 1956-58; Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, 1958-1961; Ambassador to Sweden, 1961-67; and Deputy Chairman, U.S. SALT I Delegation, 1970-1972. He died in 1991.
Robert D. Eldridge received his PhD in Japanese Political and Diplomatic History from Kobe University, Japan, in 1999. He was a tenured Associate Professor of US-Japan Relations at the School of International Public Policy of Osaka University before serving as the political advisor to the US Marine Corps in Okinawa. He is a Visiting Scholar and Researcher at several universities and think tanks, and an advisor to numerous NPOs and foundations. He is the author, editor, and translator of 100 volumes, including The Japan Self-Defense Forces Law: Translation, History, and Analysis and Japan’s Military Power: The True Ability of the Self-Defense Forces.
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