Hume Horan

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Hume Alexander Horan (August 13 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, Michael Horan, and daughter, Elizabeth Horan.[1]


  • Horan, Hume (March 2004). "Focus on Iraq: Restoring a Shattered Mosaic" (PDF). Foreign Service Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-13.


  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.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mabel Murphy Smythe
United States Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea
Succeeded by
Alan M. Hardy
Preceded by
Mabel M. Smythe
United States Ambassador to Cameroon
Succeeded by
Myles Robert Rene Frechette
Preceded by
C. William Kontos
United States Ambassador to Sudan
Succeeded by
G. Norman Anderson
Preceded by
Walter L. Cutler
United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
Walter L. Cutler