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In the spring of 1989, Earl Drake, Canadian ambassador to China, found himself in the midst of the Tiananmen Square crisis. Asked to evacuate Beijing`s Canadian residents in a hurry, to maintain control of the embassy, and to provide a voice of reason to the media, he resolved to write his memoirs if he made it out unharmed. His recollections paint a fascinating picture of the life of a diplomat initially drawn to the foreign service from his study of history, and provide a first-hand account of the growing depth and complexity of Canada`s relations with Asia.
Drake knew many of the leaders of the postwar world, and his in-depth character sketches of such powerful and controversial figures as Robert McNamara, President Suharto, and China`s Li Peng are written with a sense of humanity and fairness. What particularly sets this memoir apart is Drake`s humour and humility. He is frank about himself and his attitudes and avoids the self-importance that is a feature of many diplomatic memoirs. In his own words, he `looks at the old Central Canadian attitudes of the Department of External Affairs through fresh prairie eyes.`
Anyone who wants to know more about Canada`s diplomatic activities in Asia will find this memoir engaging, because of both its forthright manner and the events and people recounted.