Hume Horan

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Hume Alexander Horan (1934 – July 22, 2004) was an American diplomat and ambassador to five countries,[1] who has been described as "perhaps the most accomplished Arabic linguist to serve in the U.S. Foreign Service."[2]

Early life[edit]

Horan was born to Margaret Robinson Hume and Abdullah Entezam in 1934 in Washington, D.C.. His mother came from a well-to-do family; her grandfather served as a diplomat in President Abraham Lincoln's administration, her own father had been the mayor of Georgetown, and Stephen Vincent Benét was a cousin.[3] Entezam was an Iranian diplomat. Horan's parents divorced just three years after his birth (though they had been married for over a decade), and Margaret Hume subsequently married a newspaperman named Harold Horan.[1] The family then moved to Argentina.[3] Entezam went on to become the Iranian Foreign Minister and head of National Iranian Oil Company before dying in 1985.[3]

Horan was sent by his parents to a boarding school in Rhode Island named Portsmouth Priory, and as an adolescent at an all-boys school he detested it. Horan was soon thrown out and sent to study at the St. Andrew's School in Delaware, which he found much more enjoyable.[4]

In 1954 Hume Horan joined the U.S. Army, leaving two years later to study at Harvard College. In 1960 he graduated from Harvard with a degree in American History[4] and promptly joined the U.S. Foreign Service, though he came back to Harvard to earn his M.A. in 1963 at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies,[1] during which time he studied Arabic under the British orientalist Sir Hamilton A. R. Gibb.[4]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Horan's diplomatic career spanned the Greater Middle East; his first requested assignment was to a post in Baghdad, a rather unusual choice at the time.[1]

List of posts[edit]

Later life[edit]

Following the American-led invasion of Iraq, Horan worked for six months as a senior counselor on tribal and religious issues for the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003.[1] During this time he traveled across Iraq with little security, and was to meet Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani before a protest in Najaf by Muqtada al-Sadr prevented it. He was referred to by CPA head L. Paul Bremer as his "pet Bedouin,"[2] and was rewarded for his work with the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Department of Defense. He died at Inova Fairfax Hospital in 2004 after battling prostate cancer.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Horan's first wife was Nancy Reinert Horan, and they had two sons and a daughter. After a divorce he remarried Lori Shoemaker, who gave birth to a son and daughter.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sullivan, Patricia (2004-07-25). "Ambassador Hume Alexander Horan Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Remembering Hume Horan (1934-2004)". The Middle East Quarterly. Fall 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  3. ^ a b c Kaplan, Robert D. The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite. New York: The Free Press, 1993. ISBN 0-02-916785-X p. 201
  4. ^ a b c Kaplan, 202.

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