On Distant Service


On Distant Service

The Life of the First U.S. Foreign Service Officer to Be Assassinated

Susan M. Stein

360 pages
16 photographs, 1 illustration, 6 maps, index


July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2020


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

On July 18, 1924, a mob in Tehran killed U.S. foreign service officer Robert Whitney Imbrie. His violent death, the first political murder in the history of the service, outraged the American people. Though Imbrie’s loss briefly made him a cause célèbre, subsequent events quickly obscured his extraordinary life and career.
Susan M. Stein tells the story of a figure steeped in adventure and history. Imbrie rejected a legal career to volunteer as an ambulance driver during World War I and joined the State Department when the United States entered the war. Assigned to Russia, he witnessed the October Revolution, fled ahead of a Bolshevik arrest order, and continued to track communist activity in Turkey even as the country’s war of independence unfolded around him. His fateful assignment to Persia led to his death at age forty-one and set off political repercussions that cloud relations between the United States and Iran to this day.

Drawing on a wealth of untapped materials, On Distant Service returns readers to an era when dash and diplomacy went hand-in-hand.


Author Bio

Susan M. Stein spent thirty-five years teaching full time on the secondary and postsecondary level, including pedagogical collaborations in Ukraine and Uganda. She was a columnist and feature writer for the Omaha World-Herald Sunday magazine for fifteen years and is an editor of fiction and nonfiction publications. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska.


"This book would be an excellent addition to the library of any reader interested in travel and 20th century world history. It not only honors the memory of Robert Imbrie but will remind readers of America’s unsung civilian heroes who serve their country in remote and dangerous locales."—J. Kemper Campbell, Lincoln Journal Star

“Robert Whitney Imbrie, the first U.S. foreign service officer to be assassinated abroad, is a fitting hero indeed. In the era of Theodore Roosevelt and the doctrine of the strenuous life lived in the blood and dust of the arena, Imbrie, with his derring-do, his pleasant and outgoing personality, and his unfailing personal courage, is a compelling presence.”—Thomas Bailey and Katherine Joslin, authors of Theodore Roosevelt: A Literary Life

“A valuable biography that illustrates Robert Imbrie as a versatile man of character. His life, no less than his tragic end, constitutes a testimony to an honorable and distinguished man.”—Michael Occleshaw, author of Dances in Deep Shadows: The Clandestine War in Russia, 1917–1920

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. In Search of an Orbit
2. Merry Hell and More
3. All There Is of Terrible
4. Imbrie, Acting    
5. Living with Banquo’s Ghost
6. Roaming the Black Sea
7. Netting Oil
8. Before the Last Picnic
9. Death on Distant Service
10. The Pursuit of Adequate Justice
11. What Was Manifest

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