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The book begins with the transition from history to memoir--a transition it never fully realizes--when Arndt made the jump from the academy to the foreign service in 1961.
First, there is a synthetic history of the various institutional attempts at a public diplomacy. Then, the author historicizes his personal experiences his long career.
He discusses the tensions arising during WWI and after between "unidirectional informationists" interested in spreading "truth" about American values and the proponents of reciprocal educational and cultural exchanges to build bridges of international understanding (p. 53).