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Distributed for Reaktion Books

A History of Diplomacy


In A History of Diplomacy, historian Jeremy Black investigates how a form of courtly negotiation and information-gathering in the early modern period developed through increasing globalization into a world-shaping force in twenty-first-century politics. The monarchic systems of the sixteenth century gave way to the colonial development of European nations—which in turn were shaken by the revolutions of the eighteenth century—the rise and progression of multiple global interests led to the establishment of the modern-day international embassy system. In this detailed and engaging study of the ever-changing role of international relations, the aims, achievements, and failures of foreign diplomacy are presented along with their complete historical and cultural background.

312 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2010

History: General History

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 “An ambitious, innovative and remarkably wide-ranging survey by a historian of formidable breadth.”

BBC History Magazine

 “Thought-provoking and usefully targeted to the questions of today.”

Times Literary Supplement

“[A] spirited defense of traditional diplomacy . . . a history of the profession, but with an alternative focus, looking at modern diplomacy’s non-Western traditions and its roots in the medieval West. It provides fascinating details along the way about the development of embassies, envoys, and give-and-take or 19th century statesmanship. It almost made me want to rejoin the trade—except in a time capsule.”

Eamon Delaney | Irish Times

“Using illuminating, sometimes fascinating examples and an easy-going style, he describes the development of embassies and the self-taught skills of their envoys all the way up to the zenith of statesmanship, the nineteenth century . . . beyond merely demonstrating the forces that have shaped international relations today, Professor Black delivers a clarion call for today’s diplomats to not forsake their traditional skills and functions in favor of easy sound bites.”


“Black’s analysis is scholarly and perceptive. It refreshes in its diversity. It reminds us that diplomacy was active and eventful before developments in 15th century Italy led us to the regular practice of resident diplomacy.”

Asian Affairs

“Jeremy Black’s book provides a highly effective tour d’horizon of the practice of diplomacy to date, as well as indicating its future longevity.”

International Affairs

 “Jeremy Black brings together a wide ranging body of knowledge to produce a powerful defense of the traditional academic discipline of diplomatic history. In so doing he also demonstrates the continuing importance and relevance of diplomacy in the changing conditions of the modern world.”

John Clark, University of Buckingham

Table of Contents



One      1450–1600

Two     1600–1690

Three   1690–1775

Four     1775–1815

Five     1815–1900

Six       1900–1970

Seven  1970 to the Present

Conclusions: The Future



Selected Further Reading


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