Eye on the World


Eye on the World

A Life in International Service

Anthony C. E. Quainton

336 pages
10 photographs, 1 illustration, index


July 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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July 2022


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

July 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Eye on the World is the autobiography of diplomat Anthony C. E. Quainton, the story of a long and varied life lived in eleven countries on six continents. Rather than a formal history, this is Quainton’s reflection on his interactions with the events of those times, beginning with George VI’s historic visit to North America in 1939, through the years of the Cold War, the efforts to contain and then defeat the Soviet Union, and finally the two decades of uneasy peace that came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. To some of these events Quainton was merely a spectator. In other areas—India, Nicaragua, Kuwait, and Peru—he was actively involved either as a participant in the policy process in Washington or as the senior representative of the United States in those countries.

Spanning his upbringing and education through two decades after his retirement, Quainton describes the expanding horizons of a middle-class boy from the northwest corner of North America as he encountered the complexity of the world in which he spent his professional life. Quainton served in seven different presidential appointments under presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. These included four ambassadorships in distinct parts of the world and three assistant secretary–level posts in Washington. This range of geographic and functional assignments was unique in his generation of Foreign Service officers.

Author Bio

Anthony C. E. Quainton (1934–2023) was distinguished diplomat in residence emeritus at American University. After nearly twenty years as a United States Foreign Service officer he became director of the State Department’s Office for Combating Terrorism, a post he held until 1981, when President Ronald Reagan named him United States ambassador to Nicaragua. Reagan later appointed him ambassador to Kuwait, and President George H. W. Bush named him ambassador to Peru. Quainton served as director general of the Foreign Service from December 1995 to August 1997.


“Lively, refreshingly candid, and occasionally self-critical. . . . A superb account of an exemplary diplomatic career that took place during the latter half of the Cold War. It should be of strong interest to those who lived the period as well as those aspiring to diplomatic careers of their own.”—John Negroponte, former U.S. deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence

“Highly readable. . . . Interesting experiences and insights inform and educate in as good a revelation of what it means to be a diplomat as you will find. Ambassador Quainton does not hesitate to relate foible and faults and does so with humility and grace, reflecting a moral compass in a complex world . . . while dealing with terror and the personnel system of the State Department.”—Thomas R. Pickering, former undersecretary of state and ambassador to Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, the United Nations, India, and Russia

 “Distinguished diplomat and professor Anthony Quainton documents changes and constants in American diplomacy. . . . Recounting a fascinating and self-reflective life story with charming prose, the author casts light on the complexities of foreign policy making and points to opportunities for improvements. A must-read for aspiring internationalists and for pragmatic private citizens.”—Louis W. Goodman, professor of international relations and emeritus dean of the School of International Service at American University

Eye on the World is a reminder of how diplomacy has changed over more than half a century. The Nicaraguan section detailing how an ambassador walks the line to maintain credibility while dealing with a White House that wants reporting tailored to its policy remains relevant for diplomats today. The variety of Quainton’s diplomatic experiences is particularly valuable for understanding the manifold facets of diplomacy.”—Ronald E. Neumann, former ambassador to Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Algeria and president of the American Academy of Diplomacy

“In this charming and engrossing memoir, Ambassador Anthony Quainton tells his story as a boy from modest means growing up in the Pacific Northwest, attending several of the most elite institutions of secondary and higher learning in the world, and then embarking on a distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service. His account of his remarkable rise through the ranks to serve as ambassador to the Central African Republic, Nicaragua, Kuwait, and Peru is sure to inspire anyone pursuing a career in diplomacy.”—James Goldgeier, professor of international relations at American University

“One of the most respected and versatile diplomats of his generation, four-time ambassador Anthony Quainton provides a detailed and colorful account of a career spanning four decades and eleven countries. Quainton offers candid commentary on U.S. policy towards India and Pakistan in the 1970s, the Reagan administration’s covert wars in Latin America in the 1980s, and U.S. counter-drug policies in Peru in the 1990s, as well as the significant changes in the Foreign Service he experienced while serving under eight presidents, from Eisenhower to Clinton.”—John Bellinger, former legal adviser of the State Department

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1. Child of Empire
1. Seattle Beginnings
2. The Victoria Connection
3. Go East, Young Man
4. English Interlude
5. A Tiger in My Tank
6. Oxford Days
7. Meeting the Soviet Bear
Part 2. In the Nation’s Service
8. Foreign Service Beginnings
9. The Raj and Beyond
10. Paris Interlude
11. Nepal
12. The Heart of Darkness
13. Counterterrorism
14. Life in Revolutionary Nicaragua
15. Diplomacy and Regime Change
16. Desert Sands
17. Rooting Out Corruption and Incompetence
18. Andean Adventure
19. Final Washington Years
Part 3. Putting Experience to Use
20. Challenges in the Nonprofit World
21. The Classroom and Beyond
Epilogue: Christian, Gentleman, Cricketer

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