Introducing the Cablegate Chronicles

The Atlantic's single-serving site for the strange and engrossing short stories we've found among WikiLeaks' U.S. State Department documents

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Among the revelations in the WikiLeaks documents is this: Inside many a foreign service officer lurks a frustrated novelist. While most of the State Department cables engage in dry analysis of geopolitical issues, some are polished narrative gems crafted with an ear for dialogue and an eye to catching the attention of bureaucratic higher-ups. At times, it feels like tabloid diplomacy. Take this anecdote filed from the Moscow embassy.

Gadzhi gave us a lift in the Rolls once in Moscow, but the legroom was somewhat constricted by the presence of a Kalashnikov carbine at our feet. Gadzhi has survived numerous assassination attempts, as have most of the still-living leaders of Dagestan. In Dagestan he always travels in an armored BMW with one, sometimes two follow cars full of uniformed armed guards.

We recognize that there are serious geopolitical issues swirling around and through these cables. We address those elswewhere on the site. Here, we look at short stories that provide a unique and fascinating view into the lives, concerns, and tribulations of American diplomats and the people they monitor. They work like literature, drawing us into the world they describe. That world has long been kept from inspection, but now we can see this shadowy, powerful world as the diplomats themselves do.

There are two ways to explore the Cablegate Chronicles. First, any time you see the following button, you can click it and it'll take you to a random story.

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If you'd like to be more systematic, you can explore the entire archive in the order that Wikileaks posted the documents.


Illustration: Joe Alterio.

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