Ambassador Rugh describes public diplomacy practice by US embassy officers in "Front Line Public Diplomacy"

Palgrave Macmillan

Published by Palgrave Macmillan
Front Line Public Diplomacy: How US Embassies Communicate with Foreign Publics

The author is the Edward R. Murrow Visiting Professor of Public Diplomacy at the Fletcher School. Ambassador Rugh was a US Foreign Service Officer between 1964 and 1995, and has been teaching courses on US public diplomacy at Fletcher off and on since 1987. He has published four books and a dozen articles on public diplomacy. This is his latest book on the subject.

Ambassador Rugh wrote this book because he found that in teaching his courses at Fletcher, there was no book in print that adequately and accurately explained the practice of public diplomacy as it is carried out by American professionals at embassies abroad. The US government has undertaken public diplomacy programs in an institutionalized form since before World War Two, and the term was coined by Fletcher Dean Edmund Gullion in 1966. The Murrow Center for Public Diplomacy at Fletcher was for many years the most important academic center for study of the subject.

Public diplomacy became a topic that was widely discussed in the media and by think tanks and others after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States. However, most of the resulting literature on the subject focused on the Washington side of the story, and not on field operations that were based in US embassies abroad. This book corrects that imbalance by focusing on how American diplomats at our embassies carry out a variety of public diplomacy tasks, and how they adapt their efforts to the widely differing local circumstances in different countries.

This book draws extensively on Ambassador Rugh’s personal experience as a practitioner of public diplomacy, and also on research that he undertook with his students at Fletcher. Student term papers submitted during the courses he taught since 2008, that were based on interviews with serving and retired American Foreign Service Officers, were so good that some of them were published individually. Many others provided original material that Ambassador Rugh made use of (with the students’ permission) in this new book. The book is available on Amazon and an electronic version can be accessed by students through the Tufts and Fletcher libraries.

Recent Reviews

 “Ambassador William Rugh, one of the most distinguished American practitioners of the art of public diplomacy, has written a remarkable book. From basic principles through to the subtleties of today’s social media, this is the essential guide for any public diplomat headed for the field or for any analyst who wishes to understand how this essential element of international relations is practiced. This book will be required reading in diplomatic training classes in the US and one anticipates further afield also.”
Nicholas J. Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, USA

“Ambassador Rugh’s book is a comprehensive and detailed exposition of the real world of public diplomacy from the practitioner’s perspective. It will be invaluable to all who wish to understand the complexities of twenty-first century public diplomacy. It is a highly informed and eloquent exposition of the critical contribution of soft power to the promotion of American policies and values. It should be a standard work for all who seek to understand and explain contemporary public diplomacy.”
Ambassador Anthony Quainton, Distinguished Diplomat-in-Residence at American University, USA, and former Director General of the US Foreign Service

“Ambassador Rugh presents a comprehensive, current, and insightful overview of US public diplomacy field operations, filling a long-vacant niche in real-world PD resources for professors and students. His deep background as a distinguished practitioner of PD makes for a nuanced yet focused presentation of the opportunities and challenges facing PD professionals past and present.”
Elizabeth Whitaker, Adjunct Professor of Public Diplomacy at Georgetown and George Washington Universities, USA, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

“Front Line Public Diplomacy is an extensive, informative addition to the field of public diplomacy with a comprehensive analysis of what makes people-to-people diplomacy tick. While focusing on the breadth of US public diplomacy strategy and tactics, Ambassador Rugh gives insights that can be easily applied to other contexts in international settings. The book captures the history of US public diplomacy, as well as contemporary trends, including the role of social media, interagency issues, and the civilian-military nexus, so essential to understanding public diplomacy in active combat zones.”
Bridget Gersten, Foreign Service Officer, formerly public diplomacy instructor at Tufts University, USA