The Broadview Book Of Diplomatic Anecdotes

NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW  

604 words

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 
Other Diversions.' 
        
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 
information. 
        
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"        . 


Back to Non Fiction Book Reviews index

Back to Home page