Reading suggestion: ‘Diplomacy – Theory and Practice’

2016-week 01_DiplomacyWe read for you ‘Diplomacy – Theory and Practice‘, written by Professor G. R. Berridge, which you can borrow at the Central Library.

This book is one of the most highly regarded introductory books on diplomacy. It is used by universities and institutions with courses on diplomacy, international studies and related subjects, as well as in introductory classes for young diplomats in ministries of foreign affairs. It provides a brief and concise introduction to the subject, combining theory with details of how diplomacy and negotiation work in practice. Even though its content is dense and specialised, the author tries to use plain language and he avoids overloading the reader with a verbose prose style.

The 5th edition of this book has just been published. It is divided into three parts: the first is devoted to ‘The Art of Negotiation’; the second concentrates on ‘Diplomatic Relations’; while the third, entitled ‘Diplomacy without Diplomatic Relations’, is an interesting account of unofficial channels.

This new edition is not just an update. It also includes new chapters on ‘Secret Intelligence’ (chapter 10) and ‘Economic and Commercial Diplomacy’ (chapter 14).

A particularly interesting and valuable chapter of the book is the one on pre-negotiations (also referred to as ‘preliminaries’ or ‘talks about talks’). In the era of public diplomacy (a topic covered chapter 13), Professor Berridge recalls that it is important not to forget that the stage of pre-negotiations is often more important, and sometimes more difficult, than the actual phase of negotiations.

We enjoyed the variety of anecdotes the author provides in the book. Among the most thought-provoking are those involving the use of telephone diplomacy to orchestrate the response of friends and allies to a crisis. Also of great interest is the chapter on ‘diplomatic momentum’ (chapter 4), in which the author describes how negotiators operate in order to get the best result. In this respect, he presents a kind of catalogue of deadlines (self-imposed deadlines, external deadlines, symbolic deadlines, overlapping deadlines).

We hope you enjoy the book too!

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