Here’s my book review for Marie Yovanovitch’s new memoir Lessons from the Edge. It’s a must read for every American. Or individual who believes in, or needs to believe in, the power of diplomacy and sincere integrity again. And who needs to feel hopeful about current goings-on in our world, in the midst of Putin’s destructive reach. She truly lead and continues to lead, a diplomatic life.
Marie’s Story: A Diplomatic Life
Marie Yovanovitch is well-known for her involvement in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, in which she testified. She was a former US ambassador to Ukraine and was removed suddenly from her post by the Trump administration, after Trump and his former personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, among others, lead an unnecessary and kleptocratic smear campaign against her.
Lessons from the Edge mostly highlights her life up until the impeachment trial, detailing pivotal and personal moments in her diplomatic career with the US State Department, which spanned over three decades. And her story is one everyone should read, as it highlights the importance of diplomacy for everyone on the planet, really. Especially those interested in living in more democratic environments free of corruption and Putin’s growing reach. And especially as we continue to explore what warfare and diplomacy mean in the age of data, information, and disinformation.
Her story allows the reader to see up close and personal that diplomacy is as necessary, if not more necessary than, militaries and armies in a lot of cases, if not most cases. Or, at the very least, how diplomacy should always be at the center of international affairs and discourse, especially in our information age. Yet it also allows readers to see how challenging and dangerous diplomacy is in the real world. Getting maligned by foreign leaders knee-deep in corruption on a regular basis, as they try to get everything they need from your own government (who isn’t always as supportive as you need them to be), with integrity and dignity, is certainly not for the faint of heart. And is certainly not easy.
Reading Yovanovitch’s story as a woman was also inspiring. She continued to do her job with integrity and uphold the values of the Constitution, without wavering. Even when those around her, especially some of her leaders, did not. She did not give up when doing the right thing and started efforts around the world to empower women. Yet in the book, she was also vulnerable at moments that made me think of her as a true confidant and someone I would surely want to work on behalf of women, and all humans alike, around the world.
Essentially, through her story, I saw Marie Yovanovitch as a true diplomat, in all walks of her life, even at the moments when she wasn’t technically working as a diplomat. And I was able to see her true personality shine through, as a tough, steadfast, hard-working, deeply empathetic, diplomatic, introvert.
From the Edge
The title of the book is poignant because throughout the book we learn how Yovanovitch was on the edge throughout her career constantly, as both a woman and someone with deep and unyielding integrity and faith in American ideals and everything America has to offer. And from this edge, she always continued learning valuable lessons to apply later on, which she humbly shares with us.
The epilogue of the book is also worth noting. It is as much a warning against Russian corruption and its growing dangerous destructive capabilities and influence, as it is a reminder that even as we live on the edge of so many unknowns right now, we will be more than fine if we remember our ideals and do the work we need to do.
I give this book the highest rating. Five stars out of five. It clearly depicts Yovanovitch’s story, even the unglamorous moments of her life. And it is also an invaluable letter of hope to diplomats around the world, as well as to everyday citizens for which they work so tirelessly without much fanfare or gratitude (especially if they’re doing their jobs right).
Book info: Lessons from the Edge a Memoir by Marie Yovanovitch, published by Mariner Books; HarperCollins, in 2022
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