Press and Reviews

Foreign Affairs

“This memoir provides an illuminating picture of how embassies work to manage demanding and tense negotiations at pivotal points in history and is also a gripping account of a refugee’s escape and an engaging peek at the social and cultural aspects of ambassadorial life.” (April, 2009)

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Publishers Weekly

“A candid behind-the-scenes look at the glamour and challenges of diplomatic life . . . the energetic narration moves seamlessly from historical to contemporary political themes to the more personal and particular highlight of the book—accompanying Vera Blinken as she rediscovers what remains of the Budapest of her childhood.” (Jan. 19, 2009)

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American Foreign Policy Interests

“Book Briefs,” Richard N. Gardner

“A timely and inspiring testimony of how a dedicated and capable ambassadorial team can advance the interests of the United States. . . . An investment banker and patron of the arts with a solid understanding of foreign policy issues, [Donald] was ideally suited to serve in the strategically important country of Hungary as it underwent a difficult transition from communism to democracy. Vera Blinken, a former special assistant for the arts and cultural affairs to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and member of the Board of the International Rescue Committee, was proof that an ambassador’s wife can make a real difference. Hungarian born and fluent in the language, she was able to help Donald interpret the not always easy to comprehend Hungarian patterns of behavior. . . . The reader gets to understand what running an embassy is like and why ambassadors are important.” (May 2009)

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Wall Street Journal

“Political Diary,” Julie Steinberg and Holman Jenkins

“Before condemning the amateurs-abroad program, check out a new book by Donald Blinken, a Wall Streeter sent to Hungary by President Clinton, along with his Hungarian-born wife. Mr. Blinken candidly describes how he “campaigned” for the job (and nearly lost it to a career civil servant), then had a highly successful run advising the former communist country on adapting to capitalism. Capping it off, he cajoled the wary Hungarians (who had just seen the Soviet Army withdraw) into serving as a base for US peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. Mr. Blinken, an early fundraiser for Bill Clinton, writes a virtual manual on how to obtain an ambassadorship and then make the most of it to serve one’s country.”  (June 14, 2009)

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CBS News Weekend Roundup

Dan Raviv talks with Donald and Vera Blinken about how their marriage made them the perfect match to represent the U.S. in Hungary. (February 13, 2009)

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Small Business Radio

Jim Blasingame talks with Ambassador Blinken about what it’s like going from the marketplace to the diplomatic world. (April 29, 2009)

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WOR 710 Newstalk Radio

Joan Hamburg talks with Vera and Donald Blinken about their experiences when Donald was Ambassador to Hungary. (March 19, 2009)

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European Affairs

“An Ambassador’s Diary in Post-Communist Hungary”

“Instructive for non-practitioners who want to know more details about an ambassador’s daily work. . . . [and] a success story that has lessons about imaginative initiatives that even professionals should never forget. . . . Provides insight into how much an ambassadorial team’s personal commitment and inventiveness can contribute to enriching a bilateral relationship.” (Winter/Spring 2009)

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Budapest Times

“[Blinken’s] perceptions of events during his time as the United State’s representative in Hungary are particularly interesting when he touches on the changes Hungary was going through, and the machinations related to the US-led bombing of Serbia at the height of Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign to secure a Greater Serbia.” (June 27, 2009)

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Embassy of the United States Budapest Newsletter

“In this engaging dual memoir, [the Blinkens] provide a fascinating insight into the operations of the Embassy during Ambassador Blinken’s tenure in Hungary (1994-1997), and describe their joint efforts in advancing the relationship between the two countries and the two peoples. Most notably, Ambassador Blinken’s leading role in negotiating Hungary’s entry into NATO, and Mrs. Blinken’s Primavera Mobil Mammography Program, for which in 2005 she was presented the Middle Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.” (March 1, 2009)

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East Hampton Star

“In this book, one can learn a lot of details about an ambassador and his wife representing the United States between 1994 and 1997 with experience, knowledge, passion, conviction, and worthy ethnic engagements; each country honored them with Distinguished Service Medals. But there is more. Anyone interested in going to work for the State Department might wish to read this book. Wannabe ambassadors and companions ought to make it required reading. Everybody else might take a look to see why some of our international politics turn out the way they do.” (May 26, 2009)

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Vera Blinken Recalls Tackling Hungary’s Shredded Curtains (Literally!)

“What would it be like to represent the United States in a country just emerging from behind the Iron Curtain, where Soviet occupation has long poisoned attitudes toward the West and squashed the life and color out of everyday life? Definitely challenging, and at times hilarious. That is the mission recounted in Vera and the Ambassador by Vera Blinken, who escaped communist Hungary as a child and returned in triumph 40 years later as wife of U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken. In this delightful account, she welcomes us into the official U.S. Residency of a country enjoying its first taste of freedom. Vera’s entertaining tales of spying housemaids, official guests braving psychedelic green soup (the chef had never seen white asparagus and tried to compensate) – and her harried quest to bring a tattered household up to snuff make our everyday household issues shrivel in comparison. Vera shared some of her reflections in this interview with wOw columnist Liz Peek.” (June 30, 2009)

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Harriet Klausner’s Book Reviews

“Vera and the Ambassador is one of the best autobiographies in recent years, as readers will appreciate the couples’ take on the 1990s in East Europe with Hungary as their prime focus as well as the historical viewpoint of how much the capital changed in four plus decades of Soviet rule.”

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