Stephen FitzGerald’s diplomatic strengths are well known, but what is now very clear, from the publication of this immensely readable memoir, is his writing acumen. The account of how he took on the role as Australia’s first Ambassador to Communist China becomes much more than an official revisiting of important events. We accompany this most amiable guide through years of evolution in not only Australia’s foreign policy but also the national sense of identity, as society caught wave after wave of dramatic change. There is no denying Stephen’s huge admiration for Gough Whitlam, and the portrait built within these pages is memorable and distinguished, as is the portrait of Malcolm Fraser. Also memorable are the episodes set in Beijing and the regions, which provide us with rare and fascinating access to the diplomatic world. There is within these pages powerful advocacy for an ‘Australian Enlightenment’, for ‘the idea of Asia in full measure’ and for the region as our ‘primary international habitat.’ Comrade Ambassador achieves a most welcome balance between public history and what is usually private reminiscence. It does this with passion, charm and clarity.
About the Author
Stephen FitzGerald began his career as a diplomat, became an academic, was China adviser to Gough Whitlam, and from 1973 to 1976 was Australia's first ambassador to the People's Republic of China. In 1980 he established the first private consultancy for Australian business and government in China. He is currently a board member of the independent public policy initiative, China Matters, and an honorary fellow at the China Studies Centre at Sydney University.