The Broadview Book Of Diplomatic Anecdotes
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title: The Broadview Book Of Diplomatic Anecdotes; by
Gordon Martel; Broadview Press; Hardcover, 317 pages, $27.95
Reviewer: A.T.Connellan, "I insist that a book enlighten as
well as inform, kick start my imagination and tickle my funny
bone. Diplomatic Anecdotes does this."
A window on a world rarely seen.
At first glance one might be tempted to categorize this as a
collection of diplomatic trivia. Not so. Chosen from
autobiographies, memoirs, and diaries of diplomats [broadly
defined to include consular officials, service attaches and
translators] , the book examines the business of being a
diplomat by offering a number of versions of an incident,
often from opposing sides.
We are introduced to the world of diplomacy and its
participants under the themes of 'Enter the Diplomats:
Permission to Play,' 'Dressed to Deal,' 'Spies Skullduggery
and other Sensations,' 'The Art of Communication,' 'The
Rewards ofService,' 'A Diplomats Work is Never Done,'
'Tribal Rituals,' and the titillating section 'Sex, and
Gordon Martel is Professor of History [currently on
sabbatical] at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria,
British Columbia. He is the author of Imperial Diplomacy:
Roseberry and the Failure of Foreign Policy and The Origins
of the First World War, and the editor of The Origins of the
Second World War Reconsidered and Studies in British
Imperial History. For a decade he edited the journal The
International History Review.
Major events in history are examined from the inside out.
Readers will discover with fascination how these events and
subsequently history was affected by a melange of egos,
circumstance, and extraneous inconsequential factors. Set
against this interplay of factors and egos, and involved in
the ongoing dramas are the members of the diplomatic corps,
with their egos, ambitions, and interests. The outcome is
rarely boring and often engrossing.
This is perhaps best illustrated by "The Munich Crisis",
covered in the last 52 pages recounting the pivotal
diplomatic event that so profoundly affected 20 th century
history. The "other side" of the major figures in history
is seen through the eyes of those in the diplomatic service.
All the big players are here; Adolph Hitler, Benito
Mussolini, Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier, Josef
Stalin, Henry Kissinger; along with Charles R. Crane,
Philander C. Knox and a host of other lesserlights.
We are taken through the protracted and sensitive
negotiations via reports and memos of diplomatic
representatives of Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Italy,
France, and Czechoslovakia. We are taken "inside" to
experience the give and take, maneuvers, and machinations
that ultimately brought about "The Munich Agreement".
Author Martel has produced an entertaining and readable
collection of fascinating insights into what, for most of
us, is a little understood field of endeavor. He has added
to an understanding of the roles played by all engaged in
the field of diplomacy, beginning with the tale, told in the
Preface, of how he didn't become a diplomat. Too little is
available to students looking for information and insight
into diplomacy as a career. While this book doesn't cover
the full spectrum of this fascinating field it does provide
a " window ", and will complement other available
Public speakers, always on the lookout for quotes and
anecdotal material will no doubt appreciate the book and its
13 page List of Sources. Like all good historians Gordon
Martel has done his research. Now if all this sounds
unbearably dry let me hasten to point out that the man has a
very well developed sense ofhumor, and of the ridiculous,
that makes his book such a delightful " read ".
I'm a book lover, I was one of those under-the-covers-with-
a-flashlight kids, I insist that a book enlighten as well as
inform, kick start my imagination and tickle my funny bone.
Diplomatic Anecdotes does this, and goes high on my list of
Christmas "Gimmes" .
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