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"All Heads of Consulates were allowed to use an official looking yellow flashing light that would be stuck on the roof any time we seemed to be moving into heavy traffic, which as far as my chauffeur Ailton was concerned was most of the time."

The Book

Around the World in Thirty Five Years…
Scenes from a Diplomat’s Life

 A Book Proposal by John P. Bell

The lure of the diplomatic world began with a recruiter inviting us students to “see the world through a cocktail glass”. Something clicked. I sat the Foreign Service exam and began my wonderful, crazy 35 year career in the diplomatic service.

If you ask, “what does a diplomat do?” most people will think of meetings, dinners and drinks in far-flung places with strange sounding names. But the diplomatic service it is a universe all its own. Political leaders come and go but the diplomatic teams stay in place no matter who is at the helm of the country.

My memoir starts in Stockholm and Helsinki in the early 60s, when KGB Agent Smirnoff tried to recruit me, and concludes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in the 90s when the “Tigers” of South East Asia were in vogue. Dr. Mahathir was PM and crony capitalism reigned. There will be a chapter on the intrigue on winning a multi-billion-dollar rapid transit contract for SNC Lavalin and Bombardier in KL.

My trail from Stockholm to KL winds its way around the globe through Accra, Ghana and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, which had become independent from England and France relatively recently. The journey winds through Sydney, Australia and various exotic South Pacific countries before taking me to Sao Paulo, Brazil, which I named o grande Abacaxi (the Big Pineapple).

I then went to New York as Deputy Consul General to Ambassador Ken Taylor, back through West Africa as Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, before returning to Brazil as Ambassador just in time to see the military dictatorship give way to democracy. Then came a couple of years literally travelling the world preparing for Canada’s participation in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - the Rio Earth Summit.

The bookends are my early days prior to becoming a Trade Commissioner and my post retirement as a director of several large resource companies, especially Goldcorp, which kept me involved with the issues of environment and development and indigenous rights.

My memoir will relate international events and behind the scenes activity from a personal perspective. My place at the center of these events will allow me to give background, color and a personal perspective.

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