“An invaluable book for anyone who cares about America's role in the world and the dedicated public servants who carry our mission abroad.”
-Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
I held off writing a book during my long reporting career because I wanted to make sure I had something to say, but Window Seat on the World is still a story I never expected to tell.
In 2013, John Kerry surprised me by calling my cellphone. The Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate asked if I wanted to work on his communications team while he served as secretary of State.
I was at mid-life, had achieved many professional goals as a journalist, and the second of my two sons was nearly out of college. I wasn’t looking for a new job but quickly realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I grabbed it.
During the next four years, I traveled over 1.35 million miles to 91 countries across all seven continents. I saw and did things I’d only dreamed.
My travels also prompted a lot of questions from my family and friends. “What kind of plane do you fly?” “What gets said in those meetings?” “Were you ever scared?” “What’s the favorite place you visited?”
This book is my effort to answer them, and to share more of what I learned.
I write about the history and unique culture of the U.S. State Department, the country’s first cabinet agency and the most forward-deployed element of its government. There’s looks at the diplomacy behind the Middle East peace talks and Iranian nuclear negotiations. I also explain the unique challenge of dealing with the Chinese, and how the predicate was laid for Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In addition, I detail Secretary Kerry’s unusual focus on climate change, which made more and more sense based on our travels from pole to pole and to points in between. It was the biggest revelation of my experience.
During our journey, I took more than 100,000 photos in an added role as our official travel photographer. A number of these pictures are in the book, and more will soon be on this site.
I shot them from Pope Francis’s private office in the Vatican to the gilded halls of the Kremlin and behind the black-lacquer door at No. 10 Downing Street. I also clicked away on a boat barreling up the Mekong River and on helicopters flying over Antarctica, the Dead Sea, and - more ominously - Baghdad and Kabul.
Finally, the book includes a selection of vignettes giving some offbeat color from the road. Included is a description of my favorite two days on the job.
The words and images join to tell what I saw and did while the landscape scrolled past my window seat on the world.
I’m thrilled to be working with Disruption Books of Austin, Texas, to bring you this story on July 9.
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“Window Seat on the World gives us a rare, inside look at diplomacy as it is practiced at the highest level. An important and revealing read.”
-Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns, Harvard University professor,
former Undersecretary of State, former State Department spokesman