Saturday, November 22, 2014


  Beginning with "Awake and Rise"

It was at the U. S. Department of State (State), the summer of 1979, four years after the "Fall of Vietnam," April 30, 1975. 
Top-floor State brass summoned Jim to help with a growing crisis. Urgent appeals from foreign service officers in Southeast Asia told of thousands more former Vietnamese allies--and their families--at risk, barely surviving as refugees. 
Approval to build within State a new U.S. refugee program--almost from the bottom up--had finally come through. Work had to begin at once, or State might lose this critical foreign affairs role to a group of agencies outside State.

Jim faced serious career and personal challenges when the summons came. He did not want more problems to deal with; yet, there must have been a reason why he listened to the needs that day. 

Learning about the enormous project they wanted him to take on--to design and build this new program-- Jim's mind formed one question:

"If  I take on this role that rumor calls a 'career wrecker,' will State keep its word to back me up for what I'll need to make such a program work?"


 Motivation to write this book

What do you do when you say 'yes' to a tough job that affects your country's and your life's history?

In 1969, 10 years before State's top-floor summons, Jim had been present at a White House press conference (Ron Zeigler, press secretary) when reporters' question focused on him, a "lowly budget analyst," amid rumors of  Nixon's "secret plan to end the war in Vietnam";  

...a decade later Americans woke up to reports of post-Vietnam refugees and Cambodian "killing fields" survivors and drowning 'boat people.' 

No one could have guessed that these crises were prologue in the global refugee decade. 

Old White House Press Room 

From the internet: "Until 1969, the Press Corps Offices space was occupied by the White House Gymnasium and Flower Shop. Prior to that, ...a room in the northwest corner of the West Wing."

In those days, members of the press were eager to scoop any sign of Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. 

Jim's role in preparing a military supplemental led the press to question him about its significance as a signal of the war's end. 

Disclosure: Jim Purcell, my husband, has encouraged my interest in creating and posting on JNP Book blog

I am thankful for people that have offered their enthusiasm and input to his efforts.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Updates and the Nightwriter's Cottage

Book Update: The full manuscript of Jim Purcell's book, The Reawakening and Rise of America's Humanitarian Spirit from the Ashes of Vietnam (subtitle), is finished.  One of my favorite chapters includes "The Things We Tell Ourselves about Our Lives"--a personal background piece about what helped shape the author for the humanitarian challenges he faced; how does a 41-year-old husband, father, and civil servant build a team and change part of the powerful foreign service environment of the U.S. State Department?

A book proposal will be available soon for experienced book agents interested in possible representation to interested publishers; a recent lunch meeting in Washington, DC, the starting point of the story, marked another step forward.  

  Author at Nightwriter's Cottage
Jean Purcell, blogger

November 2014  Jim Purcell stayed for a week at Phyllis Theroux's Nightwriter's Cottage in Ashland, Virginia, just north of Richmond; he worked days and evenings on the final chapters of his manuscript, four books (major sections) of approximately 600 double-spaced pages for the full iteration of that time. I was there as companion and to do internet searches and to read some of his copy. 

When Jim and I first got to Ashland, we met Phyllis and her husband, Ragan Phillips; we talked briefly about the Work, what I now call "the massive manuscript." Before we parted that afternoon, a date had been set for a soiree where Jim would talk before a group about his opus. 

We enjoyed the varied group at the discussion evening; we sensed that their experience had influenced a range of political and personal opinions among them. It seemed that Jim's topic evoked interest from a broad range. I thought that the questions gave a brilliant test run for an author and his story; Jim shared some of his knowledge at the center of a revived American engagement with the world post-Vietnam, and he related some of his professional and personal conclusions, as requested.  

What can happen to an author in one week away from the familiar town, schedules, and ringing phones? More than expected, that's sure, based on our week at Nightwriter's cottage a three-hour drive from home.

About the writer's cottage: Author Phyllis Theroux has been closely affiliated with Politics and Prose bookstore and coffeehouse for many years of her writing life. In the Washington, DC, area, where she once lived, P&P is a popular bookstore where authors speak and take questions...sort of like the night her husband planned for Jim to talk about his book. I think a mutual interest in politics and public policy opened the door for a great evening. 
What started this adventure: I read a Washington Post article by Ron Charles in September 2014 and made a quick application for an October date. A printable reservation form is on the cottage website. I also emailed Ron Charles a thank you for his article. I continue to like the Post more than other leading newspapers due to its close proximity to where we live and to columnists like Ron Charles and other regulars of different views.      

We welcome readers of this blog to sign up using one of the options on this blog; readers can access updates moving forward.  


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

IOM's Chiefs of Mission Conference in Geneva showed progress at many levels

Jim and I attended the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Global Chiefs of Mission Conference, September 2014, in Geneva. The meetings at the UN Palais des Nations included friends and colleagues from all over the world whom Jim knew during his terms as director-general of the organization (1988-1998). 

It was with pleasure that we saw Ambassador and Mrs. William (Bill) Swing. Bill Swing is in a second term as director-general of IOM. His friend and colleague, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, spoke at the IOM conference opening dinner.

To read more about the work of IOM use the link above to its website, also linked here. Read about Director General William Swing, the organization's mission, activities, and member governments.

Every day there are reminders that humanitarian workers risk their lives to help others at risk and in need of urgent help for rescue, safety, health, shelter, credible information, and other important migration services.

Personal note: JNP had recently visited Montana USA with friends. Prior to returning home to prepare for Geneva he developed a high fever. At Barrett Hospital Emergency Room in Dillon, Montana, Dr. Michael Clarke and Dr. Thomas Murray, chief consultant, worked their wellness skills to lower Jim's fever. They prescribed medicine for the journey to Geneva, and the patient did very well. Barrett Hospital ER is listed as one of the top 100 in the U.S.

Friday, July 11, 2014

About Jim Purcell's Forthcoming Book 2015

"To the front press row I said in a low voice, “Believe me, folks, if the President and national security adviser have a secret plan, they wouldn’t use me to unveil it.  I just work here.” From Harbinger, Chapter 1, Hope of the Phoenix

James N Purcell, Jr. is Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Association for International Migration (USAIM). He is a member of the board of the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD). His forthcoming book (2015), subtitled "The Reawakening and Rise of America's Humanitarian Spirit from the Ashes of Vietnam," is the history of the U. S. Refugee Program (RP), 1979 to 1986, the author's personal narrative.

The U.S. Department of State tasked Jim Purcell with setting up the new Bureau for Refugee Programs (now Population, Refugees, and Migration) in 1979. President Reagan appointed Mr. Purcell as Assistant Secretary of State for the Refugee Program in 1983, where Mr. Purcell served until 1986, as the longest-serving director for the Refugee Program.

Through the State Department's Refugee Program, the U.S. put into place protocols and policies relied upon today around the world.

The early U.S. post-Vietnam refugee efforts involved U. S. Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan; U. S. congressional committees and subcommittees, U. S. communities and churches, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), helping governments, and international organizations, among them: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and others.

The U. S. Refugee Program team worked to strengthen American responses to humanitarian crises around the world.


Book Subtitle The Reawakening and Rise of America's Humanitarian Spirit from the Ashes of Vietnam - 1979 to 1986 -by James N. Purcell, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State, U. S. State Department, Bureau for Refugee Programs; former Director General, International Organization for Migration

The Distinguished Honor Award from Secretary of State George P. Shultz

The Senior Executive Service Meritorious Executive Award from President Ronald R. Reagan

Forthcoming Book Genres: Refugees, Humanitarian crises, Policy, Government, International

Copyright (c) 2014 James N. Purcell, Jr. All rights reserved.