Mark Fitzpatrick

Author, Pundit, Diplomat, Historian

As a diplomat for 26 years, Mark wrote hundreds of reporting cables (all in the name of whoever was ambassador, and some of which came to public light through Wikileaks). He represented the United States in South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Austria and served in senior posts at the State Department in Washington, DC, where he wrote talking points, briefing memos and demarches.

As a Director at a London-based global think tank, Mark wrote hundreds of articles about nuclear dangers and related foreign policy issues and produced ten books. He became a frequent commentator on BBC and other global outlets.

As a cruise ship lecturer, Mark prepared dozens of presentations about history and politics at destinations in Asia, Europe and the Western Hemisphere. When the 2020 coronavirus pandemic curtailed international travel, he turned to exploring matters closer to home.

Mark set up a company, Fitzpatrick Diplomacy, and this website to promote the result of that exploration, Spies, Bombs, and Beyond: A Walking History of Washington’s DC Tenleytown, and to provide links to his other works.

Spies, Bombs, and Beyond; A Walking History of Washington DC’s Tenleytown, by Mark Fitzpatrick

From Indigenous quarries through superpower competition to conspiracy theories like #pizzagate, Washington DC’s Tenleytown and its environs have offered a microcosm of the nation’s history. Mozart’s connection with Masonry and a young Lutheran’s flight from Latin school setting him on a path to becoming a Revolutionary War hero figure into the neighborhood that gave a home to both Henry Kissinger and Kermit the Frog. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Dickens wrote about the town long before its streets and corridors were thick with spies. The city’s history of racial and gender discrimination is increasingly relevant to 21st Century struggles for equality.

Exploring 70 sites, Spies, Bombs, and Beyond walks readers through the neighborhood, connecting the local to the global and the past to the present. Mark Fitzpatrick examines how diplomacy works and how espionage (sometimes) fails by exploring nearby embassies and the residences of ambassadors and traitors. Consider John F. Kennedy’s 1963 American University commencement speech presaging the current push for a comprehensive end to nuclear testing — even today, the residue of chemical weapons disposed near the campus stands as a powerful testament to the need to ban such weapons.

Praise for Spies, Bombs, and Beyond

“A delightful read for anyone interested in the fascinating history of the capital. Carry this volume as you stroll through Tenleytown’s neighborhoods to learn about its historic buildings, parks, and institutions. Fitzpatrick delves beneath the façades to explore the lives of unique former residents — politicians, diplomats, entrepreneurs, scientists, spies, and soldiers — who have shaped Washington as it grew from a small southern community into a globally influential city.”  Ambassador (ret.) James Zumwalt, Washington DC resident and lifelong history buff

“Mark Fitzpatrick, an international star in the nuclear field, has brought his talents home. Whether describing covert uranium programs or the hidden histories of this historic neighborhood, Fitzpatrick is equally enthralling. Even if you think you know Washington, you will learn much and be hugely entertained by this amble through America’s past via the environs of Tenleytown.”  Ambassador (ret.) Laura Kennedy, Washington DC resident

“An amazingly beautiful book, and a great read.”   Imran Javaid, AU Park resident

“Well designed, well written, nicely arranged – in short, informative and fun.”  Jane Waldmann, President of Tenleytown Historical Society

“I love this book, so charmingly written.” Barbara Syrrakos, Lecturer in History, The City College of New York

Buy the book

The book is now available at Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback versions.

For enquiries, contact Mark at

Interviews about the book


How the book was born


In retirement, I had been using my time to prepare lectures about the history and politics of cruise ship destinations around the world. When the ravaging coronavirus stopped international travel in spring 2020, I turned to local sites, setting out each day in a different walk from our home in the Tenleytown/ American University Park area of northwest Washington, DC. Finding so much to see and learn, I decided to write about my neighborhood’s rich history. For seven weeks, I daily posted narratives on Facebook about places within a half-hour walk of my home. This volume is in response to suggestions from friends that I make a book out of the postings. I revised many of the original stories and added a score more.

Several of the stories rely on the work of local historians, particularly the late Judith Beck Helm, who in 1981 published a detailed history: Tenleytown, D.C.: Country Village into City Neighborhood. (A hardcover version was republished in 2000.) I was also inspired by the Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail, produced in collaboration with the Tenleytown Historical Society in 2010. Part of the District of Columbia Neighborhood Heritage Trails program initiated by Cultural Tourism DC, it consists of 19 illustrated signs along a two-hour walking tour, starting at the Tenleytown-AU Metro (subway) station.

As a former US diplomat, I am particularly interested in foreign relations and the work of embassies, including by staff in the intelligence field who must pretend to be diplomats. As a concerned citizen, I am keen to understand the roots of disparities and racial cleavages in our society. The national awakening to Black Lives Matter took place while I was writing my stories. These interests are reflected in my selection of sites to write about. Tenleytown has many more places of local interest worthy of narration, but in general I sought to tell stories that also would appeal to outside audiences.

70 stories

Part I: History up to a Century Ago

1.       Indigenous Quarries

2.       Tenleytown

3.       Boundary Marker

4.       Coaches

5.       Dumblane

6.       Fort Bayard

7.       Fort Gaines

8.       Fort Reno

9.       Erased Community

10.   James Wormley

11.   Call Boxes

12.   Friendship Heights

13.   National Cathedral

14.   National Bureau of Standards

15.   Fire Station!

16.   Masonic Temple

17.   McLean Gardens

18.   American Creed

Part II: University Campus

19.   American University

20.   ’Merican

21.   Ward Circle

22.   American University Law School

23.   John F. Kennedy Speech Plaza

24.   Easter Island Statue

25.   Korean Stone Grandfathers

26.   Katzen Arts Center

27.   WWI Camps

28.   Chemical Weapons Program

29.   Death Valley

Part III: The Past Century

30.   Spring Valley

31.   Convent of Bon Secours

32.   UnderOak

33.   Sidwell Friends

34.   Van Ness Reservoir

35.   Alban Towers

36.   The Westchester

37.   Wagshal’s Deli

38.   The Washington Ballet

39.   Victory Garden

40.   Western Union Tower

41.   Gandhi Memorial Center

42.   Washington Hebrew Congregation

43.   NBC Studio

44.   Home of the Gecko

45.   Continuity of Government

46.   National Presbyterian Church

47.   Shroom House

48.   Fannie Mae

49.   Peter Muhlenberg

50.   Senator Feinstein’s House

51.   #Pizzagate

Part IV: Diplomacy and Espionage

52.   International Chancery Center

53.   Israeli Embassy

54.   PRC Embassy

55.   Representing Taiwan

56.   Brazilian Army Commission

57.   Russian Embassy

58.   Caribbean Integration

59.   South Korean Ambassador’s Residence

60.   Japanese Ambassador’s Residence

61.   Swedish Ambassador’s Residence

62.   Yemeni Ambassador’s Residence

63.   Mexican Ambassador’s Residence

64.   Code-busters

65.   Bright Young Spy

66.   British Traitors

67.   Tripped up by Overbilling

68.   Spying for Castro

69.   Sleeper Agent

70.   Russian Redhead

Other works by Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark is the author of Uncertain future: the JCPOA and Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes (2019), Asia’s Latent Nuclear Powers: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (2016), Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers (2014) and The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: Avoiding worst-case outcomes (2008). He is also the editor of six IISS Strategic Dossiers on countries and regions of proliferation concern.

Many of Mark’s hundreds of articles and commentaries focus on North Korea, including an interactive “choose-your-own-adventure” type online commentary for the New York Times in May 2018 entitled “Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See.”  In a BBC radio interview on November 12, 2020, he was asked how President-elect Joe Biden may handle North Korea.  (The segment starts at 37:38″; Mark comes in at 39.30″.)

Mark also writes frequently about Iran, including a November 30, 2020 assessment “Assassinating a scientist to kill the Iran deal,” and a July 1, 2020 book review, “Iran and Mr Bolton.”  In a January 15 op-ed, he argued that http://The best way to de-escalate tensions is for both Washington and Tehran to comply with the Iran nuclear deal . In a February 15, 2021 commentary on the IISS webpage, he assessed missile cooperation between North Korea and Iran:

In an August 2020 IISS podcast, Mark spoke about “Remembering the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” 

On March 12, 2021 the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe published a Youtube interview with Mark: .

Here are the covers of some of Mark’s books:

Cruise Ship Lectures

April 2017, Seabourn Sojourn, Hong Kong to Kobe:

On Crystal Symphony, October 20, 2019
  • Cross-strait crossness: Taiwan’s tense relationship with mainland China.
  • China flexes its muscles, opposing what it sees as American containment
  • The WWII Battle of Okinawa and its current role as host to US bases.
  • China-Japan frictions. 
  • Nuclear dominoes in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan?  
  • US-Japan relations: From Commodore Perry’s black ships to WWII & post-war allies. 
  • Korean Peninsula tensions
  • Iran: nuclear threat receded but still a four-letter word

October 2017, Viking Sea, Montreal to New York:

  • NATO: Why does President Trump keep picking on it?
  • Canada-US relations: Longest shared border, occasional friction
  • Canada is not the 51st US state: Exploring difference
  • Korean Peninsula tensions: What to do about Kim Jong Un?

March 2018, Seabourn Encore, Singapore to Abu Dhabi:

  • ASEAN: The ties that (loosely) bind the 10 Southeast Asian States. 
  • Korean Peninsula tensions
  • Sri Lanka Civil War: its causes, conduct, conclusion and incomplete reconciliation
  • India-Pakistan tensions: might they erupt in nuclear war
  • India’s foreign relations: strategic autonomy giving way to strategic partnerships
  • Pakistan’s nuclear dangers
  • Tensions in the Persian/Arabic Gulf: they can’t even agree on what to call it
  • Iran: nuclear threat has receded but still a four-letter word

January 2019, Viking Star, Cuba:

  • Cuba: Coming in from the cold?
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis: 13 Days in October 1962
  • The thorn in America’s side
  • The life and service of a diplomat

March, 2019, Viking Sea, Caribbean:

  • Colonial remnants: The Commonwealth and the overseas territories
  • The Caribbean as an “American lake”: Great power competition
  • The life and service of a diplomat

August 2019, Viking Sun, British Isles:

  • What’s so special about the US-UK “Special Relationship” 
  • Why and wither Brexit? What does it mean for Scotland and Ireland?
  • Ireland’s independent foreign policy
  • Differences between UK and US

October 2019, Crystal Symphony, Panama Canal:

  • Costa Rica – living out its name as a rich coast
  • Oh Colombia, the gem of the continent
  • Mexico’s drug war and America’s role, for better or worse

February 2020, Oceania Insignia, San Francisco to Santiago:

  • The symbiotic US-Mexico relationship
  • Mexico’s drug war and America’s role, for better or worse
  • Immigration is not a new issue, nor one particular to the USA
  • History and politics of South America
  • Chile: history and hysterics of a skinny state
  • Latin America led the way in banning nuclear weapons
  • Uncle Sam in South America: Protector and partner or hegemon and rival?
  • The life and service of a diplomat

August 2021, Viking Venus – Malta, Montenegro, Croatia:

  • Malta—Blessed or Cursed?
  • Debating Migration—Southern Europe & the Refugee Crisis
  • Can the Balkans overcome centuries of enmity?

October 2021, Viking Jupiter, Mediterranean:

  • Spain: Very much part of Europe, but coming apart itself?
  • Italy’s complicated politics.
  • Can the Balkans overcome centuries of enmity?
  • Will the European Union survive?

December 2021, Viking Jupiter, Buenos Aires to Valparaiso:

  • What happened to Argentina?
  • Darwin’s Human Encounters in Tierra del Fuego
  • History and politics of South America
  • Chile: history and hysterics of a skinny state
  • Latin America led the way in banning nuclear weapons
  • Uncle Sam in South America: Helper or hegemon?

July 2022, Viking Jupiter, Reykjavik to Bergen:

August 2022, Viking Orion, Alaska – Seward to Anchorage:

  • Canada Is Not the 51st US State: Exploring Differences
  • Alaska: Seward’s Folly?
  • Canada-US Relations: the Longest Shared Border; Occasional Friction
  • Arctic competition

Sept. 2022, Viking Star, Canada and New England:

  • Canada Is Not the 51st US State: Exploring Differences
  • Canada-US Relations: Longest Shared Border, Occasional Friction
  • Arctic Competition
  • The Life and Service of a Diplomat

Nov. 2022, Oceana Marina, TransAtlantic via Spain and Caribbean:

  • Spain: Very much part of Europe, but coming apart?
  • After Queen Elizabeth, Can the Commonwealth Survive?
  • NATO: The cause or the solution?
  • The Life and Service of a Diplomat
  • Puerto Rico: Part of the USA, but not fully
  • The Caribbean as an “American lake”
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis: 13 days in October 1962
  • Cuba: Coming in From the Cold?

January 2023, Viking Venus, Barcelona to London:

  • Spain: Very much part of Europe, but coming apart itself?
  • After Queen Elizabeth, Can the Commonwealth Survive?
  • NATO: The cause or the solution?
  • Differences between UK and US

February 2023, Cunard Queen Mary 2, SE Asia, Darwin:

  • ASEAN: The Ties that Only Loosely Bind
  • Thailand’s Troubles
  • Vietnam’s Testy Relations with China
  • Remembering the Vietnam War
  • Cross-Strait Crossness
  • The Life and Service of a Diplomat
  • Indonesia: Awakening Giant
  • Thunder from Down Under