Book cover image for: Whose Man in Havana? Adventures from the Far Side of Diplomacy

Whose Man in Havana? Adventures from the Far Side of Diplomacy

John W. Graham

$34.95 CAD / $34.95 USD

328 pages, 44 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-55238-828-0 (mobi)

978-1-55238-824-2 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-916-4 (Audio Book)

978-1-55238-826-6 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-55238-827-3 (ePub)

November 2015

Buy Now

About the Book

Splendidly written and murderously funny, John Graham’s rollicking memoir a feast of colourful tales from a long diplomatic career that spanned the word, from work in Cuba spying for the CIA to Bosnia, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, and Crete.

In Whose Man in Havana? John Graham provides us with a direct look at international relations through his experience as a practitioner who, as he puts it, has been fortunate in his career within the Canadian foreign service and international organizations to be ‘in the right place at the right time’.  The stuff of novels, he never would have dreamed that his apprenticeship would have him stationed in Cuba spying for the CIA on Soviet military operations. Subsequent assignments proved to be as unexpectedly and bizarrely entertaining.

Throughout the book, he has focused on the lighter side of people and places, but almost everywhere the dark side intrudes, particularly the man-made dark side, providing quite a bit of black comedy. He notes that diplomacy at its most effective is neither dry nor humourless. The book is focused mainly on Latin America and the Caribbean, but other chapters range across Bosnia, the UK, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, and Crete.

About the Author

John W. Graham is president emeritus of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) and member of The Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, founded by former US President Jimmy Carter. He was the first director of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy of the Organization of American States (OAS) and led several missions to Latin American to observe elections. Having participated in the mediation of the OAS in Guatemala, Graham was the chief international mediator in the Dominican post-election crisis in 1994. He has been involved in over thirty electoral observations in the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia. In addition, he was High Commissioner to Guyana, Ambassador to Suriname, Minister in London, Director General for the Caribbean and Central American affairs, Ambassador to Venezuela, and non-resident Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Praise for Whose Man in Havanna?

At turns lighthearted, irreverent, and deadly serious… Graham’s book is not only a rollicking, entertaining, and worthwhile read, but an elegy for the Silver Age.

—Asa McKercher, American Review of Canadian Studies 

A rollicking, engaging memoir—a combination of black humour, wry observations on life in exotic climes and—woven throughout—sophisticated socio-political analyses of places most of us don’t really want to experience in any depth.

—Paul Durand, Amazon 

Splendidly written and marvellously funny.

—Robert Bothwell, University of Toronto

Brilliant . . . from one of the foreign service’s best raconteurs.

—James Bartleman, former ambassador and Lieutenant—Governor of Ontario

A rollicking, engaging memoir . . . a feast of colourful tales that don’t quite obscure a serious piece of work on the diplomacy of the period. Writing of the highest order.

—Paul Durand, former ambassador and international mediator.

Table of Contents

Robert Bothwell


Book One

Dominican Republic

Voyage to a Different Planet
Leopold’s List
Darkness at Noon
The Dictator’s Sarcophagus
"Down with Those Who Rise"
Navidad con Libertad
Meatballs, Moose Piss, and the National Day


Whose Man in Havana?

United Kingdom
The Thames, Bunnies, and Bicycles

Sake and the Advancement of Cultural Diplomacy

Caviar and Christmas Trees
The Phantom Saboteur
"Will the Dynamite Explode if I . . ."
The State Funeral of the Honourable Linden Forbes Burnham

Clothes Make the Man
Jewels of the Forest

Trinidad and Tobago
Me, Mick Jagger, Jungle Fever, and the Legion of Evil

Pierre Trudeau and the Embarrassment of a Full Scale American War against a Very Small Island

Le Chie est Mort

Central America and Columbia
Go By Boat: Travels with Allan MacEachen

The General and Margot Fonteyn

Central America
Fireworks and Foreign Policy

Venezuela, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic
A is for Aristide
Between Brazil and Venezuela: Caipirinhas, Trestle Bridges, and Formula One Bus Drivers
Beauty and the Official Beast: The Miss Venezuela Contest

Book Two

Dominican Republic
Stepping Back from the Precipice

"The Pencil of God Has No Eraser" I
"The Pencil of God Has No Eraser" II

Black Past, Grey Future?
Sex, Sports, and Diplomacy
The Psychologist, the General, and the Beauty Contest
More Generals and the Ice Cream Man
The Road to Srebrenica

El Supremo

Boiling Toilets and Fermented Mare’s Milk

San Marcos and the Elections of 2003

Hugo Chavez: Much Loved, Much Loathed

Night train to Ternopil

Good Elections, Bad Judgement

The Jaguar Changes Some of Its Spots

El Salvador
Off the Beaten Track

Goudeau–Goudeau: Return to Haiti
Lou Quinn: A Profile