Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

 See the
Conversations with History Blog

See a webcast of this interview:

The Art of Writing, The Work of Diplomacy: Conversation with Author and Diplomat Shashi Tharoor; 2/8/99 by Harry Kreisler.

Photo by Jane Scherr

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our distinguished guest is Shashi Tharoor, who is Director of Communications and Special Projects for the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Tharoor has served in the UN since 1978, including tenure as head of the Singapore office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; as the Special Assistant to the Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (in this capacity he led the team responsible for the United Nations peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia); and most recently as Executive Assistant to the Secretary-General. He is one of India's leading writers of both fiction and nonfiction. His works run the gamut from history to satire and are rich in the traditions and cultures of his native land. His works grapple with the reality and ideals of modern India.

  1. Background ... education ... influence of parents ... a young writer ... influential books
  2. Diplomat ... timing of career choice ... assignments ... complement or conflict ... a novelist's needs
  3. Writer ... an Indian writer ... writings of Nehru ... fiction versus nonfiction ... stories a society tells about itself ... satire
  4. Truth and Power ... historical truth ... truth in literature ... precision in literature vs. in diplomacy ... peacekeeping ... use of words
  5. Lessons Learned ... do what comes naturally ... two careers

© Copyright 1999, Regents of the University of California

Site questions: Email iis_webmgr at