Bridges, Peter (S.) 1932–
Bridges, Peter (S.) 1932–
PERSONAL: Born June 19, 1932, in New Orleans, LA; son of Charles Scott (a corporate executive) and Shirley (an artist and docent; maiden name, Devlin) Bridges; married Mary Jane Lee (a tax specialist), June 25, 1955; children: David Scott, Elizabeth Lee Bridges Caughlin, Mary Bartow Bridges Jensen, Andrew Devlin. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1953; Columbia University, M.A., 1955. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Protestant. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, cross-country skiing, writing sonnets.
ADDRESSES: Home—5351 N. 37th St., Arlington, VA 22207. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, foreign service officer in Panama, Russia, Czech Republic, Italy, and Somalia, 1957–84, ambassador to Somalia, 1984–86, also served as deputy executive secretary in Washington, DC; U.S. Department of Treasury, Washington, DC, executive secretary; Una Chapman Cox Foundation, Washington, DC, executive director, 1987–88; Shell Oil Co., Houston, TX, manager of international affairs, 1988–93; European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Prague, Czech Republic, resident representative, 1993–94; retired, 1995. Houston Committee on Foreign Relations, chair, 1992–93; High County Citizens' Alliance, director, 1995–96. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955–57.
MEMBER: American Foreign Service Association, Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mellon fellow, Virginia Historical Society, 2001.
Safirka: An American Envoy (memoir), Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 2000.
Pen of Fire: John Moncure Daniel (biography), Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 2002.
Author of a privately printed chapbook of sonnets. Contributor to anthologies, including Comment and Controversy, edited by Gerald A. Bryant, Jr., Glencoe Press (New York, NY), 1972; and Tales of the Foreign Service, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1978. Contributor of articles and essays to periodicals, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Christian Science Monitor, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Los Angeles Times, Michigan Quarterly Review, Washington Times, and Foreign Service Journal.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about a sixth-century Byzantine officer in Somalia; a collection of short stories about consuls and diplomats; research on Pasquale Paoli and eighteenth-century Corsica.
SIDELIGHTS: Peter Bridges told CA: "I learned much about writing as an officer of American embassies at Panama, Moscow, Rome, and Prague, drafting dispatches that had to be brief and meaningful to catch the eyes of ranking officers in the State Department. Later, in Washington, I enforced accuracy and conciseness on the heads of State and Treasury bureaus. Meanwhile, for diversion I had begun to write prose and poetry in odd hours. I was encouraged in my writing by John Steinbeck, whom I had accompanied on a month-long tour of the former Soviet Union in 1963. My first published piece was a 1964 article on the historic residence of American ambassadors in Moscow.
"I retired from full-time office work in 1995 and began to devote myself to writing. My first book recounts my experiences as the U.S. ambassador to Somalia, 1984–86, and at earlier diplomatic posts. My second book is the first biography of a nineteenth-century Virginian, John Moncure Daniel, who became an American diplomat in Italy and then the most influential Confederate editor. Earlier I had published articles on both Daniel, a racist rebel, and his diplomatic successor in Italy, George Perkins Marsh, an abolitionist Vermonter (and great environmentalist). I found that neither northern nor southern biographers had attempted a book on Daniel and decided I could write an objective, if not sympathetic, account of a fascinating and important figure.
"Now in my seventies, I write in part for my own pleasure. I know that few of my hundred-plus sonnets will ever be published. But I hope to find, in a difficult market, a publisher for my novel and short stories in progress, in which I have written frankly and feelingly about places and people I have known."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bridges, Peter, Safirka: An American Envoy, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 2000.
Journal of Southern History, May, 2004, Mark G. Malvasi, review of Pen of Fire: John Moncure Daniel, p. 432.