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  • Book Club - The Back Channel: American Diplomacy in a Disordered World by Ambassador William J. Burns

Book Club - The Back Channel: American Diplomacy in a Disordered World by Ambassador William J. Burns

  • 14 Sep 2023
  • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Island Recreation Center, 20 Wilborn Rd., Hilton Head Island
  • 12


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The Back Channel Book CoverABSTRACT

Over the course of more than three decades as an American diplomat, William J. Burns played a central role in the most consequential diplomatic episodes of his time―from the bloodless end of the Cold War to the collapse of relations with Putin’s Russia, from post–9/11 tumult in the Middle East to the secret nuclear talks with Iran. Burns draws on a treasure trove of newly declassified cables and memos to offer rare insight into US diplomacy in action. He illuminates the back channels of his profession, and its value in a world that resembles neither the zero-sum Cold War of his early career, nor the "unipolar moment" of American primacy that followed. The Back Channel recounts with vivid detail and incisive analysis the seminal moments of a legendary career and makes an eloquent and impassioned argument for diplomacy in an increasingly volatile world.


William J. Burns is currently the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a thirty-three-year diplomatic career, and went on to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador, and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy Secretary of State. Prior to his tenure as Deputy Secretary, Ambassador Burns served from 2008 to 2011 as Undersecretary for Political Affairs. He was Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 to 2005, and Ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001. Ambassador Burns earned a bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.

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