Book Cover

Author Nora Hazlewood Lever presents

Diplomacy and Friendship

Ambassador’s Wife in Gulf War Riyadh

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Canadian author reveals role of diplomacy and
joy of friendship in Gulf War Saudi Arabia

In a lavishly illustrated memoir, Diplomacy and Friendship: Ambassador’s Wife in Gulf War Riyadh, Nora Hazlewood Lever reveals the fascinating years (1989-93) she and her husband, Ambassador Allan Lever, spent in the stunning new Diplomatic Quarter of the Saudi capital. Reading Diplomacy and Friendship brought flashbacks to veteran journalist Brian Stewart — among the first to enter liberated Kuwait City. He tells us that Nora’s “diary and letters recall with warmth and humour how she manages vital but often gruelling social rounds of receptions and dinners that continue even as Iraqi Scud Missiles target the Saudi capital and diplomats struggle with gas masks and round-the-clock crisis meetings.”

Nora describes how she helped make the embassy an oasis for visiting officials and for shuttling diplomats in the buildup to war, as well as a nerve centre for Canadian expatriates. In peacetime, she reached out constantly to officials and diplomats and their wives, and to the gutsy Saudi women who yearned to work, even just to drive, in this rigidly segregated society. Always greeting her, whether in a palace or a simple, one-room flat, was a cup of coffee, the traditional Bedouin sign of welcome.

Allan and Nora experienced a concert in the desert, a prince’s feast, and British-style picnics. They drove with British friends from ancient Sana’a in Yemen south to legendary Aden on the Arabian Sea. They also visited the ultra-modern, ‘instant’ city of Jubail and, during the Gulf War, inspected a Canadian Field hospital, which inspired work by Canada’s official war artist.

Brian Stewart sums it all up: “Whether she’s recording glittering social duties of the embassy’s peacetime life or its wartime emergencies, Lever shows how the forging of friendships still fuels effective statecraft in any age.” Renowned journalist Stevie Cameron comments: “She (Nora) has changed my view of Saudi Arabia. Not completely, mind you — but she helps the reader to understand it and her affection for the country.”

Nora seized her ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ to serve her country in the mysterious Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and spun it into pure gold for book lovers and adventure seekers.