REVIEW: Article

Book Review: Faith, Family, Friends

Family, friends, faith, military service, scholastic and college achievement, diplomacy and religious and governmental experiences all combine to make Ambassador Tom Melady’s book a highly enjoyable and interesting one.

Weighing heavily on his family values, Ambassador Melady often consulted with his wife, Margaret, on key decisions and other personal or official matters where Margaret’s expertise and views would assist in reaching a consensus at any level.

Ambassador Melady comments on his early education and his close relationship with his family—parents, siblings and grandparents. His recollections are moving, deeply felt and heart warming.

The author also reflects on his youth as a son of a “working class” father, his family hardships and happy periods and his personal ascendancy and meteoric rise in the fields of education and diplomacy.

His school and college experiences assisted him in forming and developing a strong and lasting view on the necessity and importance of ecumenism and interfaith matters.

Further, much of Ambassador Melady’s book offers fascinating descriptive passages, including his Aunt Emma’s beautiful garden marigolds that grew from seeds brought by her father from Germany.

Ambassador Melady also recounts his experiences as a young man in the United States Army. He describes his various duties as a soldier—some happy and exciting, others not so pleasant, such as when he was assigned to “latrine duty.”

While in the service, Ambassador Melady was asked to establish and monitor a lending library. This experience contributed to his ultimate success in the educational field.

Another key event that occurred while he was in the Army was an assignment that required him to travel to Rome. Once there, his Catholic background stimulated his interest in participating in a trip to the Vatican, which included a papal audience. Little did he realize that later in life, he would become the United States Ambassador to the Vatican!

Throughout the book, Ambassador Melady cites many examples of his compassion, which this reader found compelling. For example, when he was in Austria, Ambassador Melady gave sandwiches to an Austrian lady guide, who brought the food home for her parents to eat.

Ambassador Melady is a firm believer in religious pluralism and has strong convictions that cause him to speak out against ethnic and racial prejudice. In 1966, he authored a resolution condemning racism.

Further, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ambassador Melady served as the United States Ambassador to Burundi and later Uganda. In Faith, Family, Friends, he writes about his close connections to the African continent. In addition to numerous visits, assignments and appointments, he also has undertaken research and study of many African countries and published several books on these subjects.

Faith, Family, Friends, must be read in its entirety to learn of the author’s discussions with Pope John Paul II and President George H. W. Bush regarding the Vatican’s opposition to US participation in the Gulf War; his involvement in domestic political activities at the highest level when he attended the Republican National Convention in Detroit and walked a tight line between the Reagan-Bush election; his groundwork to arrange a meeting with the Pope for then President George H. W. Bush; and, the high honors he received from the Knights of Malta.

This book is an uplifting story about, and by, a man who through hard work and personal commitment has achieved the highest levels of success in many fields. It is a must read. 

Issue Date


United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, 1986-1989