Glasgow-born grandson of poor Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Horace Phillips dreamed as a teenager of a career in the diplomatic service - if only as a British consul. But family circumstances and the Civil Service Commission ruled this out, and at 17 he became an Inland Revenue tax clerk, later passing the executive class examination. Following wartime army service, and a period working as a member of Mountbatten's staff during his time as Viceroy, Phillips entered the diplomatic service through one of the highly competitive examinations open to ex-servicemen. As a vice-consul in south Persia he began a career of 30 years that took him to a variety of eastern countries, and he eventually rose to the post of senior ambassador. Horace Phillip's memoirs describe an interesting and varied life, and includes accounts of some important moments in history: the British withdrawal from Aden; Nyerere on the brink of taking Tanzania out of the Commonwealth; and Turkey's intervention in Cyprus. Phillips also describes the personal trauma of the King of Saudi Arabia's rejection of him as British Ambassador, after "The Jewish Chronicle" had publicized the fact of his Jewishness.
On mandatory retirement at 60 he became resident representative of a major engineering group for nine years in Persia, Bahrain, Hong Kong and China. For 5 years he was a lecturer in international relations at a Turkish university for one term per year.