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Letters: Life in the Foreign Service

DON GONYEA, Host:

Time now for your comments. Last week we aired two reports on life in the foreign service. Martin Gross in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, grew up as the son of a diplomat. Thank you, he writes, for shedding some light on this dedicated group of people who work day and night to decrypt the politics, economics and people of their host country, and who try to shape U.S. foreign policy to make us better global citizens. Unfortunately, they seem to not be listened to or understood as well as they should.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Former diplomat Johanna Kovitz recently left the foreign service and she writes, I retired early for mixed reasons but I was strongly motivated by what one might call moral grounds. And for that I paid a price, forfeiting about half my retirement. Listening to the recent programs reminded me all over again both of why I found foreign service worthwhile and why I decided to leave early.

GONYEA: Many of you wrote in about our story on the price of college textbooks. Retired Professor F. Lincoln Grolfs(ph) from St. Louis, Missouri complained about the cost of books he assigned for class. He writes, When I skipped chapters, my students were both confused and upset by the fact that they had bought a book with so much material in it that was not a vital part of the course.

MONTAGNE: But Jane Reimers(ph) in Orlando, Florida, had less sympathy. If students would put their cell phones away and use less gas in their BMWs, maybe they could afford the textbooks, she writes. I'm a textbook author who knows exactly how much work goes into writing and production. It is certainly worth a few tanks of gas, a month's cell phone bill, or a month's beer money.

GONYEA: Many of you continue to write about our coverage of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Marjorie Lonick(ph) writes, I have heard lots of interviews of Israelis but none from the Lebanese who are not hunkered down in bomb shelters with plenty of food and water. They have no food, water or first aid because the Israelis bombed the relief trucks.

MONTAGNE: Rochelle Sahor(ph) from Iowa City has a different take. She writes she's hearing lots of stories about refugees and humanitarian crises in Lebanon, but not about how the war is affecting Israel and the individuals who spend days in bomb shelters.

GONYEA: Casey Black in Los Angeles found relief from our Middle East coverage with Susan Stamberg's profile of a shop in Paris that's been selling art supplies to painters since Picasso. Ms. Stamberg's story was a much needed burst of color. Indeed, she took me on a brief vacation, far from worries about war and out of the San Fernando Valley heat.

MONTAGNE: If you're hot under the collar about anything you hear on our show, or think something's cool, please write in. Just go to npr.org and click Contact Us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.