Window Seat on the World
My Travels with the Secretary of State
Unless they’ve lost a passport abroad, most Americans have little appreciation for the reach and scope of the US Department of State or the perils faced by its employees.
Reporter Glen Johnson had been covering politics for the Boston Globe when he received a job offer that would embed him in this world of protocols, planes, and global peacekeeping. His new boss would be Secretary of State John Kerry, set to become the most prominent diplomat on the world stage.
Johnson sensed it was a meeting of man and moment.
For four years, he accompanied Kerry as he became the most-traveled Secretary of State in history. The former journalist kept notes while Kerry worked out a power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan, negotiated with the Israelis, convinced Iran to get rid of its nuclear weapons program, developed a counter-ISIS coalition, and brokered climate change agreements, including the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Kerry also confronted two lingering challenges: how to cooperate with an assertive China and a Russia that sidestepped its own wrongdoing but felt aggrieved and justified to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
In his goal to create the best and most complete photo archive of any secretary of State, Johnson lobbied the State Department for a decent camera and shot more than 100,000 photographs everywhere Kerry went—from the office of Pope Francis to center ice for a puck drop at Madison Square Garden, from the Kremlin and No. 10 Downing Street to a helicopter flying over Antarctica.
Window Seat on the World is an all-access look at life inside the nation’s first cabinet agency: the complexity of State Department protocols, the grueling schedules, the delicacy of engagement with world leaders and foreign cultures, and the dedication of a longtime public servant and his team to the practice of diplomacy.
“Window Seat on the World is a whirlwind tour of four consequential years of American diplomacy, written with the unique insights of a veteran journalist who had a front row seat. Glen Johnson’s insider’s account of the intricacies of diplomacy with Iran, John Kerry’s haunting trips to Vietnam, and the heartbreak of a dedicated young foreign service officer’s death in Afghanistan brings to life all the dimensions of John Kerry’s tenure as America’s top diplomat. An invaluable book for anyone who cares about America’s role in the world and the dedicated public servants who carry our mission abroad.”
“Glen Johnson’s Window Seat on the World gives us a rare, inside look at diplomacy as it is practiced at the highest level. An important and revealing read.”
“Glen Johnson offers a unique look at the US State Department and the many challenges of American diplomacy. Writing with the skill of a former news reporter and the access granted a staff member, Johnson provides fresh perspective on John Kerry’s remarkable career of public service, including descriptions of his patience, creativity, and the special skills he brought to a job perfectly suited to his background. This is a rare insider/outsider perspective on someone who has lived in the state, national, and international spotlight for so long.”
“Window Seat on the World serves as a judicious companion to Kerry’s 2018 autobiography, Every Day Is Extra. . . . [Johnson’s] precise documentation, from the mundane moments to the monumental, has the cumulative effect of restoring some dignity to the idea of public service.”
“A terrific recollection of a journey, and thoughtful insights about the importance of diplomacy, brought to life by his behind the scenes photos.”