My newly found interest in Russia was followed by a detour. America was burning-race riots and Vietnam had plunged the country into turmoil. The University of Chicago was in a war zone. I decided to get involved at home before launching myself into foreign adventures. HUD's Model Cities Program became my vehicle to do service for my country. Model Cities sent large chunks of discretionary money to cities crying for help, and sent me to Tuskegee, Alabama. After two years in Tuskegee's Model Cities program I went back to Chicago to "do consulting" using my vast knowledge of on-the-ground realities of federal grant making.

Then, my Russian siren called me. I returned to Washington where I had moved after business school. I was studying Russian and found myself writing inflammatory articles for Foreign Policy Magazine saying that the Russians had advanced technology and American companies were buying it.

I was contracted by the US Department of State to investigate, document, and explain this "reverse technology flow" phenomenon from the USSR and Eastern Europe. For four years, I sleuthed, interviewed, and finally wrote reports that provided the first comprehensive documentation of the deal flow of Soviet bloc technology to the US, mostly as intellectual property rights: patents and trade secrets. In 1980, I founded Kiser Research Inc to probe the commercial secrets of the communist bloc. We helped industry to put Russia and Eastern Europe on the map as places to seek better or cheaper mousetraps, and acted as midwives in the process. But my heart was never in technology but rather going into the unknown. I am not really a techie, but a liberal arts student with a penchant for history and languages (BA History, University of North Carolina; MA History, Columbia University). I like creating bridges to different cultures and subcultures. My first book, Communist Entrepreneurs, described how creative minds succeeded in the communist system, where its deficiencies were often prods to innovation.

After fifteen years and too much traveling, I needed a change and so did my wife. In 1994, I took my family to Nice in France for a year of bathing in French culture, the subject of a book yet to be written. My French sabbatical led me to a change of life style. I turned over Kiser Research to my colleagues and have since focused my life on writing and raising pigs.

See also:

Author Q & A from themonksoftibhirine.net

Patheos Book Club on Commander of the Faithful.