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Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest
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The New Press 2015
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A helicopter ride to visit troops in the Afghanistan war zone, a tense meeting with the newly elected Prime Minister, and...a wild boar hunt! Eleni Kounalakis was forty-three and a land developer in Sacramento, California, when she was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Hungary under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During her tenure, from 2010 to 2013, Hungary was a key ally in the U.S. military surge, held elections in which a center-right candidate gained a two-thirds supermajority and rewrote the country's constitution, and grappled with the rise of Hungarian nationalism and anti-semitism.
The first Greek-American woman ever to serve as a U.S. ambassador, Kounalakis recounts her training at the State Department's "charm school" and her three years of diplomatic life in Budapest—from protocols about seating, salutations, and embassy security to what to do when the deposed King of Greece hands you a small chocolate crown (eat it, of course!). A cross between a foreign policy memoir and an inspiring personal family story—her immigrant Greek father went from agricultural day laborer to land developer and major Democratic party activist—Madam Ambassador draws back the curtain on what it is like to represent the U.S. government abroad as well as how American embassies around the world function.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/05/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781620971123
ASIN:
B00PSSEK32
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APA Citation (style guide)

Eleni Kounalakis. (2015). Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Eleni Kounalakis. 2015. Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Eleni Kounalakis, Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest. The New Press, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Eleni Kounalakis. Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest. The New Press, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis was the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary until July 2013. She lives with her husband, Markos Kounalakis, and their two boys in San Francisco.

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A helicopter ride to visit troops in the Afghanistan war zone, a tense meeting with the newly elected Prime Minister, and...a wild boar hunt! Eleni Kounalakis was forty-three and a land developer in Sacramento, California, when she was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Hungary under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During her tenure, from 2010 to 2013, Hungary was a key ally in the U.S. military surge, held elections in which a center-right candidate gained a two-thirds supermajority and rewrote the country's constitution, and grappled with the rise of Hungarian nationalism and anti-semitism.
The first Greek-American woman ever to serve as a U.S. ambassador, Kounalakis recounts her training at the State Department's "charm school" and her three years of diplomatic life in Budapest—from protocols about seating, salutations, and embassy security to what to do when the deposed King of Greece hands you a small chocolate crown (eat it,...

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A helicopter ride to visit troops in the Afghanistan war zone, a tense meeting with the newly elected Prime Minister, and...a wild boar hunt! Eleni Kounalakis was forty-three and a land developer in Sacramento, California, when she was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Hungary under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During her tenure, from 2010 to 2013, Hungary was a key ally in the U.S. military surge, held elections in which a center-right candidate gained a two-thirds supermajority and rewrote the country's constitution, and grappled with the rise of Hungarian nationalism and anti-semitism.
The first Greek-American woman ever to serve as a U.S. ambassador, Kounalakis recounts her training at the State Department's "charm school" and her three years of diplomatic life in Budapest—from protocols about seating, salutations, and embassy security to what to do when the deposed King of Greece hands you a small chocolate crown (eat it, of course!). A cross between a foreign policy memoir and an inspiring personal family story—her immigrant Greek father went from agricultural day laborer to land developer and major Democratic party activist—Madam Ambassador draws back the curtain on what it is like to represent the U.S. government abroad as well as how American embassies around the world function.

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      • premium: False
      • source: Janet Napolitano, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
      • content: "If you want to know what it looks like for a woman to 'lean in,' read Ambassador Kounalakis's book. It is an inspiring example of a businesswoman-turned-diplomat taking every opportunity to effectively advance the interests, values, and security of our country."
      • premium: False
      • source: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
      • content: "Ambassador Kounalakis brings us inside the world of American diplomacy in a personal, accessible way, sharing her experiences as a diplomat during challenging times."
      • premium: False
      • source: Dave Eggers, author of The Circle
      • content: "Engrossing, edifying, and funny too. Kounalakis is a great storyteller, and she puts us in the middle of the action. Yes, action--even the ambassador to a peaceful place like Hungary sees more than her share."
      • premium: False
      • source: U.S. Ambassador John Shattuck (Ret.)
      • content: "Eleni Kounalakis demystifies diplomacy and shows how a world shaped by the Internet and social media still needs ambassadors, especially those with strong principles and a good story to tell."
      • premium: False
      • source: Admiral James Stavrides, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
      • content: "This is an all-American story told by the first Greek American woman to serve as a U.S. Ambassador."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: "Kounalakis was a quick study. . . . [Madam Ambassador] offers further evidence, if anyone still needs it, that the European Union now faces the possibility of an autocracy taking shape within its border."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2015
        A memoir of Kounalakis' three-and-a-half years as ambassador to Hungary under President Barack Obama.Conscious about her relative youth (age 43 in 2010), female sex within a male-dominated, hand-kissing Hungarian political elite, and lack of foreign service bona fides, the author accepted the top diplomatic spot to Hungary after her first choice, Singapore, became unavailable. So how does one become a U.S. ambassador? Indeed, much of this step-by-step chronicle to power serves to answer this question. In short, you get chosen after cultivating friendships with the most powerful Democratic women of your home state, California, namely Nancy Pelosi, and proving yourself a devoted party operative and fundraiser. Having worked with her Greek-American father as a land developer for 15 years, while fostering deep ties to the Democratic Party and rainmaking for its candidates, Kounalakis was rewarded-despite having fiercely supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign-with the ambassadorship to one of the more successful and elegant former Soviet satellites, now a full-fledged NATO and European Union member. While there were not any major crises between 2010 and 2013, Viktor Orban's center-right party had swept the socialists from power, putting in place some troubling authoritarian restrictions, such as a stifling media law. There had also been gains as well in political extremism and anti-Semitism. Kounalakis briefly delineates Hungarian history-stopping well before the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 with nary a mention-but mostly plunges into the tasks she undertook: moving her family into the large, gloomy residence, keeping Hungary committed to providing troops to aid the U.S. war in Afghanistan, planning the yearly Fourth of July celebration and trips by American luminaries-e.g., Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and then-Secretary of State Clinton. A flat-footed and mostly self-serving account.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        March 1, 2015
        Kounalakis and her father, Greek American real-estate developers in Sacramento, were major contributors to the Democratic Party. Kounalakis developed close ties to Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, who became her mentor and encouraged her to pursue an interest in foreign service. When the opportunity came for an ambassadorship in Hungary, Kounalakis and her husband, a former Newsweek reporter stationed for a while in Budapest, jumped at it. She served from 2010 to 2013, during a period when the U.S. sought to maintain a balanced relationship with a former totalitarian regime now part of the European free market but facing rising nationalism and anti-Semitism. Kounalakis describes the subtleties of foreign service, the combination of charm and steeliness needed to maintain balance in a former key strategic ally during the collapse of the former Soviet Union. During her tenure, she traveled to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops, stared down a recently elected prime minister, dealt with an embassy construction project that unearthed a long-buried Soviet-era bomb, and bagged a wild boar in a hunting challenge.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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