Douglas Dillon Book Award
The Douglas Dillon Book Award
for Books of Distinction on the Practice of American Diplomacy
Since 1995, the American Academy of Diplomacy has celebrated distinguished writing about US diplomatic efforts and achievements with an annual award.
The deadline for submission of nominations for this year’s award was Friday, August 7, 2020. Over the summer, the Academy’s Book Committee reviewed several competitive nominations and have since released their selection for this year’s Dillon Book Award. The statement can be read here.
Eligibility is limited to books written by American citizens and published in the United States within the period of August 3, 2019 to August 2, 2020. The Academy seeks to honor books, and their authors, dealing with the practice of American diplomacy with emphasis on the way US foreign policy is developed and carried out, rather than international theory, studies of broad foreign policy issues, or analyses of intelligence and security operations. Biographies, autobiographies, and personal memoirs that relate to diplomatic practice and process are welcome. Both official diplomatic relations between governments and non-official “Track Two” and other activities that supplement government-to-government diplomacy fall within the scope of this competition. We are particularly interested in books that focus on the opportunities diplomacy offers as well as its limitations.
Details about the 2020 call for entries can be accessed here: Dillon Award Call for Entries 2020
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History of Douglas Dillon Book Award Recipients
To access an extended list of previous award winners, click here.
by Paul Richter
The tale’s heroes are a small circle of top career diplomats who have been an unheralded but crucial line of national defense in the past two decades of wars in the greater Middle East. In The Ambassadors, Paul Richter shares the astonishing, true-life stories of four expeditionary diplomats who “do the hardest things in the hardest places.”
The book describes how Ryan Crocker helped rebuild a shattered Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban and secretly negotiated with the shadowy Iranian mastermind General Qassim Suleimani to wage war in Afghanistan and choose new leaders for post-invasion Iraq. Robert Ford, assigned to be a one-man occupation government for an Iraqi province, struggled to restart a collapsed economy and to deal with spiraling sectarian violence—and was taken hostage by a militia. In Syria at the eruption of the civil war, he is chased by government thugs for defying the country’s ruler. J. Christopher Stevens is smuggled into Libya as US Envoy to the rebels during its bloody civil war, then returns as ambassador only to be killed during a terror attach in Benghazi. War-zone veteran Anne Patterson is sent to Pakistan, considered the world’s most dangerous country, to broker deals that prevent a government collapse and to help guide the secret war on jihadists.
“An important and illuminating read” (The Washington Post)—The Ambassadors is a candid examination of the career diplomatic corps, America’s first point of contact with the outside world and is a critical piece of modern-day history.
Paul Richter has written about foreign policy and national security for three decades. As a Washington-based correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, he reported from sixty countries and appeared in US and international media. He covered the State Department for the Los Angeles Times from 2001 to 2015, and before that, the Pentagon and the White House. He was raised in the Washington, DC, area and Minneapolis, and graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is also the principal author of California and the American Tax Revolt: Prop 13 After Five Years. He lives in the Washington, DC area.
by Elizabeth Shackelford
A young diplomat’s account of her assignment in South Sudan, a firsthand example of US foreign policy that has failed in its diplomacy and accountability around the world.
In 2017, Elizabeth Shackelford wrote a pointed resignation letter to her then boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She had watched as the State Department was gutted, and now she urged him to stem the bleeding by showing leadership and commitment to his diplomats and the country. If he couldn’t do that, she said, “I humbly recommend that you follow me out the door.”
With that, she sat down to write her story and share an urgent message.
In The Dissent Channel, former diplomat Elizabeth Shackelford shows that this is not a new problem. Her experience in 2013 during the precarious rise and devastating fall of the world’s newest country, South Sudan, exposes a foreign policy driven more by inertia than principles, to suit short-term political needs over long-term strategies.
Through her story, Shackelford makes policy and politics come alive. And in navigating both American bureaucracy and the fraught history and present of South Sudan, she conveys an urgent message about the devolving state of US foreign policy.
Elizabeth Shackelford was a career diplomat in the U.S. State Department until December 2017, when she resigned in protest of the Trump administration. During her tenure with the Foreign Service, Shackelford served in the U.S. embassies in Warsaw, Poland, South Sudan, Somalia, and Washington, D.C. For her work in South Sudan during the outbreak of civil war, Shackelford received the Barbara Watson Award for Consular Excellence, the State Department’s highest honor for consular work.
Her resignation letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, first shared by Foreign Policy, went viral. Since her departure, Shackelford has continued to raise awareness about the consequences of our troubled diplomacy in the press, in academic and community groups, and through other public commentary.
As an independent consultant, Shackelford focuses on human rights advocacy, conflict mitigation, political affairs, and democratic processes. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Rochester, VT.