I list below, in categories corresponding roughly to the chapters in my textbook, Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 6th ed (2022), books (and a few articles) that I believe valuable to all students of diplomacy. Those dealing with embassy substitutes, such as representative offices, are included under ‘Modern bilateral diplomacy’. The list is obviously not exhaustive. I have tried to restrict myself to recommending my own books to categories where I think other works are a bit thin on the ground. See also my Book Reviews and the ‘Further reading’ at the bottom of the ‘Updating’ pages for each chapter of the textbook.

This page also contains sections on ‘Novels by Former Diplomats and Intelligence Officers’ and ‘Political Thrillers and Historical Novels (by other writers)’.

Adcock, F. and D. J. Mosley, Diplomacy in Ancient Greece (1975). The only full length study of this subject. Extremely valuable, although the separately authored parts do not blend very well and there is considerable repetition; at one key point at least (the proxenos) it has been overtaken by later research . Mosley’s part is the most useful on diplomatic methods,

Anderson, M. S., The Rise of Modern Diplomacy, 1450–1919 (1993). A solid historical treatment by a former Professor of International History at the LSE.

Anderson, Sonia, An English Consul in Turkey: Paul Rycaut at Smyrna, 1667–1678 (1989). A very illuminating window on mid-seventeenth century consular work; superbly researched. Smyrna is modern-day Izmir,

Barber, Peter, Diplomacy: The world of the honest spy (1979).
An authoritative and richly illustrated brief history of diplomatic practice from about 1400 to 1900. It was designed to complement an exhibition on this theme held at the British Library but, as the author says in his Preface, presents ‘a coherent survey of the subject which stands quite independently of the exhibition.’

Berridge, G. R., Maurice Keens-Soper and T. G. Otte, Diplomatic Theory from Machiavelli to Kissinger (2001). This is a collection of essays by men whose thought both reflected and shaped the diplomacy of the times in which they lived: Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Grotius, and Richelieu (Berridge), Wicquefort and Callières (Keens-Soper), and Nicolson and Kissinger (Otte ).

Berridge, G. R., Diplomatic Classics: Selected texts from Commynes to Vattel (2004).
This book provides convenient access to the thought of some of the most important figures writing on diplomacy when modern diplomacy was taking shape; that is, in the interval between the end of the middle ages and the French revolution. Lengthy passages from two works, De Vera’s Le parfait ambassadeur and Pecquet’s Discours sur l’art de négocier, appear in English translation for the first time. In the main, I chose the selections to highlight the contributions for which the individual writers are best known (for example, the attack by Commynes on ‘summitry’), although some were picked with a view to modern interests (for example, De Vera’s views on women in diplomacy). In the interests of clarity, selections from some of the 14 texts represented are grouped under thematic sub-headings. All are fully introduced, annotated, and accompanied by recommendations for further reading.

Berridge, G. R., British Diplomacy in Turkey, 1583 to the present: A study in the evolution of the resident embassy (2009) [reviews]. Part A of this book analyses the evolution of the embassy as a working unit up to the First World War: the buildings, diplomats, dragomans, consular network, and communications. Part B examines how, without any radical changes except in its communications, it successfully met the heavy demands made on it in the following century. The book is a defence of the continuing value of the resident embassy.

Berridge, G. R.,  Diplomacy, Satire and the Victorians): The Life and Writings of E. C. Grenville-Murray  (2018) [reviews]. This is the only biography of one of the most controversial British diplomats of the nineteenth century, whose moonlighting as a journalist for Household Words, the periodical edited by Charles Dickens, eventually got him sacked by the Foreign Office while Consul-General at Odessa in 1868. He obtained his revenge by attacking it relentlessly in a satirical journal he founded in London, The Queen’s Messenger. He eventually fled into an immensely productive literary exile in France.

Berridge, G. R., The Diplomacy of Ancient Greece: A short introduction (2018). Available here. A work of synthesis of existing scholarship designed for the student of diplomacy with no prior knowledge of the subject. Chapter 1 deals with the personnel, Chapter 2 with their conduct of bilateral diplomacy, and Chapter 3 with multilaterals.

Bertram, Mark, Room for Diplomacy: The History of Britain’s Diplomatic Buildings Overseas 1800–2000, 2nd ed (Spire Books, 2017), together with accompanying online ‘Catalogue of British embassy and consulate buildings, 1800 – 2010′ . This book is richly illustrated but is no coffee table book. Bertram is a highly qualified architect who worked in public service all his life, ending up as head of the estate department in the Foreign Office from 1985 until 1997. His book, which starts with ‘First Ownership 1800–1815’ and ends with ‘Hong Kong, Moscow and Berlin 1983–2000’, is fluent and authoritative and without doubt the last word on the problems and possibilities of diplomatic and consular buildings – except that it is understandably silent on the issue of their security.

Bozeman, Adda B., Politics and Culture in International History, 2nd ed (1994. A most important book, with very interesting sections in chs. 9 and 13 on Byzantine, Venetian and modern European diplomacy.

Britton, Roswell S., ‘Chinese interstate intercourse before 700 BC’, American Journal of International Law, vol. 29(4), 1935. A rare contribution for China in this period.

Chaplais, Pierre, English Diplomatic Practice in the Middle Ages (2003). Really a book for specialists in ‘diplomatic’ (the noun rather than the adjective), the study by medievalists of the forms of documents ‘in order to authenticate and date them so that they may be more fully understood,’ as S. D. Church says in a review of this book.  Chaplais’s scholarship is much admired but for the non-specialist this is a book to be dipped into via the contents list rather than read from cover to cover. To provide context for the diplomatic, he has much to say about envoys, oral messages, and the embassy’s progress, for example.

Cohen, Raymond and Raymond Westbrook (eds), Amarna Diplomacy: The beginnings of international  relations (2000). The 18 essays in this collection deal with what the 3,000-year old ‘letters’ (actually cuneiform tablets) discovered at Amarna in Uppr Egypt in 1887, tell us about the international system of the Ancient Near East, including the diplomatic methods of its ‘Great Kings’.

Craig, Gordon A.,  and Felix Gilbert (eds), The Diplomats, 1919–1939 (1953)
Craig, Gordon A., and Francis L. Loewenheim (eds), The Diplomats, 1939–1979 (1994). Two large, valuable collections of essays by respected scholars. Mainly dealing with important foreign ministers and ambassadors, they also contain chapters on foreign ministries, leaders who made a major impact on the foreign policies of their states, and more general issues. The first volume has 21 chapters, 9 on ‘The Twenties’ and 12 on ‘The Thirties’; the second has 23, divided between parts on ‘The War and its Aftermath’, ‘The Cold War’, ‘A New Europe’, ‘The Wider World’, and ‘Détente and its Limitations’.

Cuttino, G. P., English Diplomatic Administration, 1259–1339, 2nd ed (1971). See especially Chapter V on ‘Agents and Mechanics of Diplomacy’. Authoritative.

Dickinson, J. G., The Congress of Arras, 1435 (1955). A most illuminating account of an episode of medieval multilateral diplomacy, drawn to my attention by Anne-Brigitte Spitzbarth (University of Lille III).

Eilers, Claude (ed), Diplomats and Diplomacy in the Roman World (Brill: Leiden, 2009). See only Introduction and ‘Roman perspectives on Greek diplomacy’ by Sheila L. Ager.

Frey, Linda and Marsha Frey, ‘“The reign of the charlatans is over”’: the French revolutionary attack on diplomatic practice’, The Journal of Modern History, vol. 65(4), Dec., 1993. A valuable piece by the Frey sisters.

Franklin, Simon and Jonathan Shepard (eds), Byzantine Diplomacy: Papers of the Twenty-fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Cambridge March 1990 (1992). A comprehensive collection of essays of a uniformly high standard.

Frey, L. S.,  and M. L. Frey, The History of Diplomatic Immunity (1999). I reviewed this massive volume here.

Frodsham, J. D. (trsl.), The First Chinese Embassy to the West: The journals of Kuo Sung-T’ao, Liu Hsi-Hung and Chang Te-Yi (1974). In 1876, Kuo Sung-T’ao sailed with a small party on an English mail steamer to establish in London the first resident Chinese diplomatic mission in the West (it was actually a legation, 11-strong by 1879). Kuo favoured peaceful relations with the Barbarian Westerners, which made him unpopular at home. The journals of the party make interesting if not altogether surprising reading. Frodsham provides a long introduction. D. C. Boulger’s The Life of Sir Halliday Macartney, Kuo’s ‘English Secretary’, can be found in the Internet Archive. See also Jenny Huangfu Day, ‘Mediating Sovereignty: The Qing legation in London and its diplomatic representation of China, 1876–1901’, Modern Asian studies, 2021-07, vol.55 (4), pp.1151-84

Grenville-Murray, E. C., Side-Lights on English Society, or Sketches from Life, Social and Satirical (1881), vol. 1, pp. 151-254 (‘On H.B.M.’s Service’). A satirical treatment of British diplomacy in the mid-nineteenth century, often highly amusing. The engravings, however, are disappointing. G-M deals with each position in the diplomatic service according to his view of their rank, starting with ambassadors – and putting ambassadresses last, after messengers and interpreters.[Available free at the Internet Archive]

Grundy, Isobel, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment (1999). Bags of detail; an exhaustively researched biography of the wife of the British Ambassador at Constantinople (1717–18), the forgettable Edward Wortley-Montagu. Lady Mary is famous for her Turkish Embassy Letters, re-published most recently, I believe by Virago Press in 1994, and essential reading for anyone interested in women and diplomacy; and also well-known for her experimentation with smallpox inoculation.

Hamilton, Keith, Bertie of Thame: Edwardian Ambassador (1990). Lord Bertie (pronounced ‘Bartie’) was British Ambassador to France from 1905 until 1918 and after the First World War was widely held to epitomise the ‘old dipomacy’. This is a formidably researched and polished account of his diplomatic career, focussing chiefly on his Paris embassy, by an author who was a full-time academic before becoming an FCO historian. This is a model for ambassador studies. Keith Hamilton is also co-author of the textbook noted below.

Hamilton, Keith and Richard Langhorne, The Practice of Diplomacy, 2nd ed (2011). A very valuable historical account of the evolution of diplomatic practice but – unlike M S. Anderson’s book (see above) – goes back further (to Ancient Greece) and comes up much nearer to the present.

Hill, David Jayne, A History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe. A US scholar-diplomat, Hill (1850–1932) provides a magisterial, 3-volume work, running to almost 2000 pages, which starts with the Roman Empire and ends at the French Revolution of 1789. At first glance it is forbidding but even in the printed copy, finding what you want is assisted by a good index and amazingly detailed contents list for each volume. (It is a rare weakness of each index that they do not contain ‘mediations’ but many examples can be found by trawling the contents lists or, of course, using the Search function in the online editions.) Hill uses the term ‘diplomacy’ broadly, to embrace foreign policies and the manoeuvring of states to accomplish them, so I provide below notes on some of the most useful pages for what he calls ‘diplomatic usages’ (methods) and the conditions that fostered them:
Vol. 1, The Struggle for Universal Empire (1905) [Available free at the Internet Archive]: see esp. ‘Barbarian’ kings, 38–41; Byzantium, 206–9; Venice, 262, 296–8; Italy, 356–­62
Vol. 2, The Establishment of Territorial Sovereignty (1906) [Available free at the Internet Archive]: see esp. conditions fostering French diplomacy, 83–­4; French diplomacy, and the ‘beginning of permanent missions in Italy’, 152–­9, and in Europe 308–­10
Vol. 3, The Diplomacy of the Age of Absolutism  (1914) [Available free at the Internet Archive]: see esp. diplomats of Louis XIV, 51–­5; immunities at Rome, 201–­2; back-channels long before Henry Kissinger, 501–­2, 530, 582.

Hopkins, Michael F. et al (eds), The Washington Embassy: British ambassadors to the United States, 1939–77 (2009). Eleven good essays with a conclusion by John W. Young and myself.

Jones, Raymond A., The British Diplomatic Service 1815–1914 (1983). A generally sound, well-organized account; particularly interesting on the ‘family embassy’ and its decline during this period. A graduate of the Department of International History at the LSE, Jones published his thesis from that Department in 1971: The Nineteenth Century Foreign Office: An administrative history.

Liverani, Mario, International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600–1100 BC (2002).
An immensely authoritative work by the Professor of History of the Ancient Near East and Director of the Inter-University Research Centre for Saharan Archaeology at the University of Rome. It is a revised version of a book originally published in Padua in 1990 as Prestige and Interest.

Mack, William, Proxeny and Polis: Institutional networks in the Ancient Greek World (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2015). Ground-breaking research, flagged on the database published on the Internet (below).

Mack, William (Project Director), Proxeny Networks of the Ancient World (a database of proxeny networks of the Greek city-states).

Mattingly, Garrett, Renaissance Diplomacy (1955). The widely acclaimed classic account of the birth of the resident embassy in Renaissance Italy. A superb book. Should be read in conjunction with Donald Queller’s splendid The Office of Ambassador in the Middle Ages.

Meier, S. A., The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World (1988). A very tight, scholarly tract.

Moran, William L., The Amarna Letters, ed. and trsl. by William L. Moran (1992). See Cohen and Westbrook above.

Mösslang, Markus and Torsten Riotte (eds), The Diplomats’ World: A cultural history of diplomacy, 1815–1914 (2008). A collection of 16 very varied essays inspired by a conference organized by the German Historical Institute in London.

Munn-Rankin, J. M., ‘Diplomacy in Western Asia in the early second millennium B.C.’, Iraq, Spring 1956, vol. 18(1). Stands alone, I believe, in treatments of this particular period.

Nickles, David Paull, Under the Wire: How the Telegraph Changed Diplomacy (2003).
The first full-length study of this important subject. Recommended by the State Department’s historian. I reviewed it here.

Nicol, Donald M., Byzantium and Venice: A study in diplomatic and cultural relations (1988, PoD edn 1992). I started to skim this for passages dealing with Byzantine diplomatic method but got hooked and read it from cover to cover. It manages to be rich in detail without obscuring the main themes. A brilliant and sometimes quite gripping historical narrative. Also particularly good on the role of the Venetian baillie (resident diplomat). Devotees of the historical novels of Dorothy Dunnett (esp. the House of Niccolo series) should read this book. Fact really is stranger than fiction.

Nicolson, Harold, The Evolution of Diplomatic Method (1954). A well known account, with which all historians of diplomacy need to be familiar. It is rather superficial but elegant and sharp, and provocative in a way beloved by those searching for good quotes for exam questions.

Peyrefitte, Alain, The Collision of Two Civilizations: The British expedition to China, 1792–4 (1993). An enthralling and well researched account of the failed attempt of the British envoy, Lord Macartney, to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with China. Translated from the French.

Queller, D. E., The Office of Ambassador in the Middle Ages (1967). A great book, full of wisdom and learning. The ‘prequel’ to Mattingly’s Renaissance Diplomacy.

St. Clair, William, Lord Elgin and the Marbles (1983). Elgin was by no means the first or the least scrupulous British ambassador in Istanbul to arrange for the removal of priceless ‘marbles’ (sculptures) from the Ottoman Empire, particularly from its Greek provinces; he is however the most controversial. This is a lively, entertaining, authoritative, and beautifully written treatment of this episode. One ends up almost feeling sorry for him.

Sarkissian, A. O. (ed), Studies in Diplomatic History and Historiography in honour of G. P. Gooch, C.H. (1962), esp. the ch. by Rohan Butler on ‘Paradiplomacy’.

Skinner, Quentin, Machiavelli (1981). Ch. 1, The Diplomat. An illuminating piece by a brilliant political theorist.

Wozniak, E. E., ‘Diplomacy, Byzantine’, in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 4 (1984). Learned and succinct.

Young, E., ‘The development of the law of diplomatic relations’, British Journal of International Law, vol. 40,  1964. A very useful piece.

Young, John W., Twentieth Century Diplomacy: A case study of British practice, 1963–1976 (2008). A first-rate work by one of the leading scholars of British diplomacy and recent diplomatic history. It is unique in so far as it shows how each of the main modes of diplomacy (resident embassies, special missions, bilateral summits, and so on) were employed by one state over one relatively short period. It is also based on the official papers which were the latest to be de-classified at the time of writing.

Yurdusev (ed.), A. Nuri, Ottoman Diplomacy (2004). A collection of essays on an intriguing subject, well edited by Nuri Yurdusev of the Dept. of International Relations at the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara. It contains two of my own pieces, so I could hardly leave this out!