The Foreign Office Mind

The Foreign Office Mind : The Making of British Foreign Policy, 1865-1914

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With this pioneering approach to the study of international history, T. G. Otte reconstructs the underlying principles, elite perceptions and 'unspoken assumptions' that shaped British foreign policy between the death of Palmerston and the outbreak of the First World War. Grounded in a wide range of public and private archival sources, and drawing on sociological insights, The Foreign Office Mind presents a comprehensive analysis of the foreign service as a 'knowledge-based organization', rooted in the social and educational background of the diplomatic elite and the broader political, social and cultural fabric of Victorian and Edwardian Britain. The book charts how the collective mindset of successive generations of professional diplomats evolved, and reacted to and shaped changes in international relations during the second half of the nineteenth century, including the balance of power and arms races, the origins of appeasement and the causes of the First World War.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 448 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 15 b/w illus.
  • 1139153854
  • 9781139153850

Review quote

'Otte opens up our understanding of the role of the diplomatic professionals in the long nineteenth century, keeping a careful balance in his analysis of the role of the professionals and that of their political masters. Meticulous in its scholarship, written with great clarity, this work demonstrates with ease a mastery of a complex and intricate subject.' Erik Goldstein, Boston University 'This is an outstanding book. Otte has used an extraordinary number of sources and found personal papers which most historians did not know existed. He covers an extended period of time, clearly showing how different generations of officials and diplomats reacted to changes in the shifting world scene. This is an authoritative study which will be used by generations of future historians of British foreign policy.' Zara Steiner, University of Cambridge 'This book gives food for thought as well as much historical enlightenment.' The Times Literary Supplement 'By delving into the interaction of policy debates and office politics, this book provides an often fascinating institutional history of the Foreign Office and is a treasure trove of biographical information on many of the ministry's key personnel during this period.' Phillip Dehne, Journal of British Studies 'The Foreign Office Mind is an excellent source for providing a deep examination of the inner workings of the British diplomatic corps interaction with other European powers leading up to the First World War ... [Otte] clearly demonstrates that the commencement of the conflict and its horrific cost over the next four years was not inevitable, but rather the result of diplomatic and political manoeuvring by European powers for over half a century for dominance on the European continent and in their colonial spheres.' Eric Haas, H-Net Reviews ( 'A comprehensive analysis.' Total Politics
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About T. G. Otte

T. G. Otte is Senior Lecturer in Diplomatic History at the University of East Anglia. His recent publications include The China Question: Great Power Rivalry and British Isolation, 1894-1905 (2007), The Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1854-1946 (with Keith Neilson, 2009) and Coalition Government in Britain: From Glorious Revolution to Cameron-Clegg (as editor, 2010).
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Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Illusions of supremacy: the Foreign Office mind, 1865-74; 2. The problems of isolation: the Foreign Office mind, 1874-85; 3. Problems of consolidation: the Foreign Office mind, 1885-92; 4. Two eastern questions: the Foreign Office mind and the period of flux in great power politics, 1892-1900; 5. The transformation of great power politics: the Edwardian Foreign Office mind, 1900-7; 6. The end of an era: the late-Edwardian Foreign Office mind, 1907-14; Conclusion.
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