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The Foreign Service has long sought to improve its training, to provide some form of "operating manual" with systematic case studies for its officers. History Shock provides not only a model for such case studies, but also a unique contribution of an interpretive framework for how to remedy this deficit, including recommendations for strengthening historical literacy in the Foreign Service.
For over twenty-five years John Dickson served the United States as a Foreign Service officer. Dickson organizes History Shock around a country-by-country series of lively personal experience vignettes, followed by compelling historical analysis of the ways in which his inadequate understanding of the host country's history lead to history shock: where dramatically different interpretations of history blocked diplomatic understanding and cooperation.
John Dickson offers these stories to highlight the interaction between history and foreign relations and to underscore the costs of not knowing the history of our partners and adversaries, much less our own. In both Mexico and Canada in particular our lack of knowledge and understanding of how our long history of military interventions continues to complicate our efforts at developing mutually beneficial relationships with our two closest neighbors. In Nigeria and South Africa, Dickson experienced firsthand how the history of racism in the United States plays out on a world stage and clouds our ability to effectively work with key African nations.
The Foreign Service has long sought to provide some form of "operating manual" for its officers. Dickson provides not only a model for such case studies, but also recommendations for strengthening historical literacy in the Foreign Service.
Running time 10 hrs