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Arts of Power

Our political/historical/diplomatic reading club read Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy for our second title. I chose this title rather quickly, based on its short length and its presence on a Highly Recommended Reading List from work. The book was described by one book club member as “a core text.” I think they described it as such because Arts of Power is a collection of three long essays, each of which includes many, many definitions of terms related to diplomacy. Reading the book, I was tempted to convert the content of the book into an organization chart or just an outline. The third section, The Skills of a Diplomat, is the section that interested me the most since it had more examples of things that I need to learn how to do and more explanations of how those skills relate to each other.

Overall, reading this book was like reading a very short dictionary. But now I know the difference between a coalition and an alliance, and I have a great list of skills which I need to develop over time. Amazingly for such a slim volume, the book club discussion was fairly lengthy. Many of the definitions were challenging in their realism and led to some interesting conversations along the realism/idealism line. Several readers commented that reading this made them want to re-read and discuss Machiavelli’s The Prince.


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