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.
In The Back Channel, Burns recounts, with novelistic detail and incisive analysis, some of the seminal moments of his career. Drawing on a trove of newly declassified cables and memos, he gives readers a rare inside look at American diplomacy in action. Burns sketches the contours of effective American leadership in a world that resembles neither the zero-sum Cold War contest of his early years as a diplomat nor the “unipolar moment” of American primacy that followed.
William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a thirty-three-year diplomatic career. 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, 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. He and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters.
“From one of America’s consummate diplomats, The Back Channel is an incisive and sorely needed case for the revitalization of diplomacy—what Burns wisely describes as our ‘tool of first resort.”—Henry Kissinger
Sponsored by Dickey Center
Free and open to the public.
“Bill Burns is a treasure of American diplomacy.”—Hillary Clinton
“The Back Channel shows how diplomacy works, why it matters, and why its recent demise is so tragic.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci