Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with James W. Chamberlin
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
JAMES W. CHAMBERLIN
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: February 19, 1997
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: Today is the 19th of February 1997 and this is the interview of James Chamberlin, that's C H A M B E R L I N. No middle initial?
Q: All right W, James W. Chamberlin. Could you say a few words, and I'll just check this thing. If you'll tell me when and where you were born, and a little about your family?
CHAMBERLIN: Okay. I was born in 1945 in Miami, Florida, but my whole family is from Alabama. So it was unusual that I was born in Miami. My father was overseas in the Army, and my mother went to be with relatives in Miami when I was born. Otherwise, I would be a third or fourth generation Alabamian.
Q: Where in Alabama?
CHAMBERLIN: Mobile, which is where my grandparents lived. My great grandfather fought in the battle of Mobile Bay.
Q: Oh yes. Damn the Torpedoes!
CHAMBERLIN: Exactly, Admiral Farragut. My great grandfather, James Williams, for whom I am named, was commander of Fort Powell, a small fort guarding the western entrance to Mobile Bay. Once on my way to a meeting in the Pentagon, I saw a piece of Farragut's flagship in the hall, and I thought, oh, my great grandfather must be turning over in his grave.
Q: When your father got out of the service, was he a professional military officer, or what does he do?