I spent 39 years in the Foreign Service, toward the end as ambassador and State Department inspector general, which I assume is why the author asked me to critique his manuscript. Mr. Kralev provides a vibrant, accurate description of what American diplomats actually do, something little understood by their countrymen. Of course there is danger--nine of my friends and colleagues suffered a violent end--but this book dwells more on the wide variety of duties performed and the sense of national service that permeates this small corps of public servants. The author took advantage of his job as a journalist covering the State Department, which entailed traveling tens of thousands of miles with the Secretary. He interviewed scores of Foreign Service Officers and watched what went on in embassies, consulates, and some more remote locations. He describes the occasional excitement and glamor of the Foreign Service career, as well as the strain upon marriages, the challenge of educating children. He criticizes systemic flaws he finds. The narrative flows smoothly. If you are interested in an honest, often surprising account of America's "first line of defense", here it is.