Introducing the Cablegate Chronicles

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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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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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