The problem with memoirs by politicians and diplomats is that they are written by politicians and diplomats – people who throughout their professional lives have exercised such selectivity and economy with the truth that when you pick up the book you know you probably can’t believe a word in it. Juliet Miles is a diplomat’s wife and her approach is very different. Instead of seeking to set the record straight for posterity or settle old scores, she simply recounts what life was like in the countries to which her husband was posted. That was particularly interesting for me because I lived for three years in one of those countries (Libya) and I have spent (and still do spend) a great deal of time in another (Saudi Arabia). When you read what Juliet Miles has to say, you know that she is telling it exactly as she saw it and the insights into what went on behind the scenes are fascinating. Add to that that she has a sense of humour that informs the book from start to finish and you have a book that should be required reading for anyone with an interest in recent British history and foreign policy.
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