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Books for Review

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy regularly publishes book reviews of approx. 800-1000 words. We are accepting reviews of the selected books below, as well as any other contribution within the field of diplomacy and global affairs.

If you are interested in writing a book review, please contact our editors Constance Ducombe and Sophie Vériter to obtain a copy and for further information.

To read our published book reviews, click here.


Diplomatic Studies

The Frontiers of Public Diplomacy: Hegemony, Morality and Power in the International Sphere
Colin R. Alexander (ed.)

This edited volume provides one of the most formidable critical inquiries into public diplomacy’s relationship with hegemony morality and power. Wherein the examination of public diplomacy’s ‘frontiers’ will aid scholars and students alike in their acquiring of greater critical understanding around the values and intentions that are at the crux of this area of statecraft.For the contributing authors to this edited volume public diplomacy is not just a political communications term it is also a moral term within which actors attempt to convey a sense of their own virtuosity and ‘goodness’ to international audiences. The book thereby provides fascinating insight into public diplomacy from the under-researched angle of moral philosophy and ethics arguing that public diplomacy is one of the primary vehicles through which international actors engage in moral rhetoric to meet their power goals.The Frontiers of Public Diplomacy is a landmark book for scholars students and practitioners of the subject. At a practical level it provides a series of interesting case studies of public diplomacy in peripheral settings. However at a conceptual level it challenges the reader to consider more fully the assumptions that they may make about public diplomacy and its role within the international system.

Diplomacy, Communication, and Peace: Selected Essays
William Maley

This book is composed of interconnected essays which reflect on challenging new issues related to diplomacy communication and peace. It begins by drawing out some of the challenges for diplomacy that arise from modern theories of semantics and of strategic communication as well as those posed by the need for secrecy and by the activities of agents of influence. It then proceeds to examine important issues in contemporary diplomacy including refugee diplomacy humanitarian diplomacy sovereignty norms and consular activities. It concludes with an exploration of dilemmas that confront attempts to promote peace through multilateral means such as the limitations of peacemaking diplomacy the difficulty of promoting democratic governance and the problems associated with dealing with morally repugnant actors. The book is grounded in the conception of diplomacy as a social practice with multiple players and recognises that ‘the state’ has many different elements and that ‘state actors’ live in worlds shaped not just by their relations with other states but also by their own complex domestic politics.

Digital Diplomacy and International Organisations Autonomy Legitimacy and Contestation
Corneliu Bjola, Ruben Zaiotti (eds.)

This book examines how international organisations (IOs) have struggled to adapt to the digital age and with social media in particular.The global spread of new digital communication technologies has profoundly transformed the way organisations operate and interact with the outside world. This edited volume explores the impact of digital technologies with a focus on social media for one of the major actors in international affairs namely IOs. To examine the peculiar dynamics characterising the IO–digital nexus the volume relies on theoretical insights drawn from the disciplines of International Relations Diplomatic Studies Media and Communication Studies as well as from Organisation Studies. The volume maps the evolution of IOs’ "digital universe" and examines the impact of digital technologies on issues of organisational autonomy legitimacy and contestation. The volume’s contributions combine engaging theoretical insights with newly compiled empirical material and an eclectic set of methodological approaches (multivariate regression, network analysis, content analysis, sentiment analysis) offering a highly nuanced and textured understanding of the multifaceted complex and ever-evolving nature of the use of digital technologies by international organisations in their multilateral engagements.

The Future of Diplomacy After COVID-19 Multilateralism and the Global Pandemic
Hana Alhashimi, Andres Fiallo, Toni-Shae Freckleton, Mona Ali Khalil, Vahd Mulachela, Jonathan Viera (eds.)

This book considers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international diplomacy and the challenges and opportunities it presents for the future of multilateralism.Global cooperation and solidarity are central to responding to and mitigating the health and socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to many this was slow to mobilize and lacking in political leadership. This book takes a practical look at the lessons learned from the period spanning the World Health Organization’s first declaration of a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020 to the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations in October 2020. This timespan covers a critical period in which to consider key areas of diplomacy covering a range of tools of global cooperation: multilateral diplomacy the rule of law sustainable development economics and financing digital governance and peace and security. Each chapter in this book introduces readers to the current situation in their respective areas followed by a constructive consideration of lessons learned from the pandemic’s impact on that field and key recommendations for the future. The practical focus and future orientation is particularly important as the book injects pragmatism and guidance that will facilitate ‘building back better’ in COVID response plans while creating space for continued focus on global commitments around sustainable development and the future of the UN.

China’s Civilian Army (forthcoming)
Peter Martin

China's Civilian Army charts China's transformation from an isolated and impoverished communist state to a global superpower from the perspective of those on the front line: China's diplomats. They give a rare perspective on the greatest geopolitical drama of the last half century. In the early days of the People's Republic diplomats were highly-disciplined committed communists who feared revealing any weakness to the threatening capitalist world. Remarkably the model that revolutionary leader Zhou Enlai established continues to this day despite the massive changes the country has undergone in recent decades.

Book cover: Consuls and Captives
Consuls and Captives: Dutch-North African Diplomacy in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Erica Heinsen-Roach
Boydell & Brewer

This work offers a new perspective on the history of diplomacy in the western Mediterranean, examining how piracy and captivity at sea forced Protestant states from northwest Europe to develop complex relationships with Islamic North Africa. Tracing how Dutch diplomats and North African officials negotiated the liberation of Dutch sailors enslaved in the Maghrib, author Erica Heinsen-Roach argues that captivity and redemption helped shape (rather than undermine) a new diplomatic order in the western Mediterranean.

Diplomatic Tenses: A social evolutionary perspective on diplomacy
Iver B. Neumann
Manchester University Press

Offering an alternative and a complement to existing histories of diplomacy, this book discusses change in the form of 'tipping points', which it understands as the culmination of long-term trends. Part I discusses social evolution on the general level of institutions. It argues that in cases where a diplomatic institution's tipping points are defined by the types of entities that make it up, the consular institution has evolved from concerning polities of independent traders to becoming ever more of a state concern. Part II challenges the existing literature's treatment of diplomacy as an elite, textual affair. It lays the groundwork for studying visual diplomacy and observes that the increasingly marginal vision of diplomacy as a confrontation between good and evil survives in popular culture. The book concludes by identifying the future of diplomacy as a struggle between state-to-state based diplomacy and diplomacy as networked global governance.

Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age 
Natalia Grincheva

Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age explores online museums as sites of contemporary cultural diplomacy.  Building on scholarship that highlights how museums can constitute and regulate citizens, construct national communities, and project messages across borders, the book explores the political powers of museums in their online spaces. Demonstrating that digital media allow museums to reach far beyond their physical locations, Grincheva investigates whether online audiences are given the tools to co-curate museums and their collections to establish new pathways for international cultural relations, exchange and, potentially, diplomacy. Evaluating the online capacities of museums to exert cultural impacts, the book illuminates how online museum narratives shape audience perceptions and redefine their cultural attitudes and identities.  Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age will be of interest to academics and students teaching or taking courses on museums and heritage, communication and media, cultural studies, cultural diplomacy, international relations and digital humanities. It will also be useful to practitioners around the world who want to learn more about the effect digital museum experiences have on international audiences.


Feminist Lenses on Global Affairs

Women and Power in Africa: Aspiring Campaigning and Governing (forthcoming)
Leonardo Arriola Martha Johnson and Melanie Phillips (eds.)

Women and Power in Africa: Aspiring Campaigning and Governing examines women's experiences in African politics as aspirants to public office as candidates in election campaigns and as elected representatives. The book's chapters problematize existing hypotheses regarding women in political power drawing on understudied countries and variety of empirical methods. By following political pathways from entry to governance the book uncovers how gendered experiences early in the political process shape what is possible for women once they attain political power.

Women as Foreign Policy Leaders: National Security and Gender Politics in Superpower America
Sylvia Bashevkin
Oxford University Press

What is known about women’s participation as decision-makers in international affairs? Is it fair to assume, as many observers do, that female elites will mirror the relatively pacifist preferences of women in the general public as well as the claims of progressive feminist movements? By focusing on women’s presence in senior national security positions in the American political executive, Women as Foreign Policy Leaders offers among the first systematic responses to these questions.

Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors 1933-1964 
Philip Nash
University Press of Kentucky 

"It used to be," soon-to-be secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright said in 1996 "that the only way a woman could truly make her foreign policy views felt was by marrying a diplomat and then pouring tea on an offending ambassador's lap."This world of US diplomacy excluded women for a variety of misguided reasons: they would let their emotions interfere with the task of diplomacy they were not up to the deadly risks that could arise overseas and they would be unable to cultivate the social contacts vital to success in the field. The men of the State Department objected but had to admit women including the first female ambassadors: Ruth Bryan Owen Florence "Daisy" Harriman Perle Mesta Eugenie Anderson Clare Boothe Luce and Frances Willis. These were among the most influential women in US foreign relations in their era.Using newly available archival sources Philip Nash examines the history of the "Big Six" and how they carved out their rightful place in history. After a chapter capturing the male world of American diplomacy in the early twentieth century the book devotes one chapter to each of the female ambassadors and delves into a number of topics including their backgrounds and appointments the issues they faced while on the job how they were received by host countries the complications of protocol and the press coverage they received which was paradoxically favorable yet deeply sexist. In an epilogue that also provides an overview of the role of women in modern US diplomacy Nash reveals how these trailblazers helped pave the way for more gender parity in US foreign relations.

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