I must admit I had no idea of the nature of Kirkus Reviews until it put my consular reference book on its Recommended list.

My husband and I are long-time subscribers of the New York Review of Books and, and, as far as I knew, that’s the cream of the crop in the literary world. But, as I came to learn, my niche publication was a natural for Kirkus reviewers rather than something in the vast genre of grand literary works (no Great Gatsby or Gone with the Wind here).

Kirkus is read by consumers and professionals, such as librarians and other book buyers. Just don’t ask me about the funny name of “Kirkus”! Better yet, just google it.

I begin with the concluding statement at the end of the review (italics mine) review (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/search/?q=cami+hofstadter&t=all):

Well-written and lively, offering an engaging way to learn about the sometimes perplexing world of foreign consulates. (italics mine)

(And here, then, is the complete review):

This expanded second edition adds a global perspective to a surprisingly readable explanation of foreign consuls.

Arguably, Americans are generally less worldly in foreign affairs, in part because of the country’s physical isolation from much of the rest of the world. American citizens are also likely to be ignorant of foreign consuls, even though consuls may be located in their very communities. Yet as Hofstadter, a Finnish-born transplant to America who spent time as a consul, explains, these officials help “in the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between their countries and the U.S. locales where they are posted.”

The author handily explains who consuls are and their primary functions, as well as proper etiquette when it comes to dealing with them. While the book is most relevant for American government officials, academics, or business people who might have interactions with foreign dignitaries, it could be of interest to a broader audience because it is so enjoyable to read.

Hofstadter writes with a great deal of polish and good humor in a style that is informal yet authoritative. She is particularly adept at creating engaging chapter openings through her use of anecdotes that often demonstrate various blunders caused largely by people who haven’t a clue how to interact with consuls or how to make the best use of their services. The author discusses some of the key areas in which consuls have an impact, including facilitating travel as well as cross-border educational exchanges. Particularly interesting are explanations of the distinction between “career” and “honorary” consuls and the differences between consular and diplomatic personnel. Also useful (and somewhat dizzying) are the variety of definitions: “consul general,” “consul,” “vice consul,” “consulate,” “consular corps,” and “diplomat.” The detail about how to address consuls (both in person and in written form) and seat them at events is admittedly mundane, but it will certainly help avoid embarrassment for individuals responsible for such things.

Well-written and lively, offering an engaging way to learn about the sometimes perplexing world of foreign consulates. (italics mine)


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