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)’.

  • André Brink
    A well known South African novelist.
    The Ambassador
  • Dorothy Dunnett
    The late Dorothy Dunnett was a terrific historical novelist. I preferred the House of Niccolo series, set in Europe in the late fifteenth century and dealing with merchant banking and international political intrigue. They are complicated but quite gripping; best read in the published order as below. See more about the author and her books here.
    ‘The Lymond Chronicles’, published between 1961 and 1975:
    1. The Game of Kings
    2. Queens’ Play
    3. The Disorderly Knights
    4. Pawn in Frankincense
    5. The Ringed Castle
    6. Checkmate
    The ‘House of Niccolo’ series, published between 1986 and 2000:
    1. Niccolò Rising
    2. Spring of the Ram
    3. Race of Scorpions
    4. Scales of Gold
    5. The Unicorn Hunt
    6. To Lie with Lions
    7. Caprice and Rondo
    8. Gemini
  • Paul Theroux
    The London Embassy
  • Philip Kerr
    If you are an admirer of Raymond Chandler, you will like this author. Someone has said that in the tautness of his dialogues and the richness of his similes, he ‘out Chandlers Chandler’. I am a great fan, especially of his novels about the left-leaning Berlin Kripo detective turned private eye in the Nazi period Bernie Gunther, the first three of which are also published collectively under the title ‘Berlin Noir’. These are the nine Bernie Gunther novels:
    1. March Violets
    2. The Pale Criminal
    3. A German Requiem
    Berlin Noir {NB Includes the first 3}
    4. The One From The Other
    5. A Quiet Flame
    6. If The Dead Rise Not
    7. Field Grey
    8. Prague Fatale
    9. A Man Without Breath
  • Mick Herron
    Anything by this brilliant novelist – to whom I have come regrettably late – but especially the five titles in his Jackson Lamb series. Herron rarely writes a dull sentence. You will laugh as well as be thrilled.
  • Alan Furst
    1.   Night Soldiers
    2.   Dark Star 
    3.  The Polish Officer
    4.   The World at Night
    5.   Red Gold
    6.   Kingdom of Shadows
    7.   Blood of Victory
    8.   Dark Voyage
    9.   The Foreign Correspondent
    10. The Spies of Warsaw
    11. Spies of the Balkans
    12. Mission to Paris