This book has a punch, and a purpose - The Sunday Times Deeply researched and passionately argued book - Morning Star Charmley proceeds to cut a broad revisionist swathe through various foreign secretaries and prime ministers - The Spectator This is an original and meticulous book about British foreign policy at the zenith of empire - Country Life John Charmley is Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia where he has taught since 1979. But this second type cannot be sure what the story may be until the evidence has been exhausted. Many historians argue that it is difficult to blame the fall of the on Churchill, as it was exceedingly likely to fall anyway. For Charmley, Disraeli was a Palmerstonian without Pam's moral concerns. When Dr, Otte questions whether Grey was truer to the spirit of the Entente than Lansdowne he treads on thin ice. Since Britain shared Austrian concern at Russian expansion in South-East Europe, Bismarck did not have to choose between his two allies when they were at odds in the Balkans. Margot Asquith's Great War Diary 1914—1916: The View from Downing Street Kindle ed.
First of all, its title is slightly misleading. Nevertheless, this foreshortening of the perspective is somewhat unfortunate, for Splendid Isolation? The relationship between the fourteenth earl and his heir meant there was no proper Victorian life and times. This, I used to think, was called writing history, but I have since gathered that it is actually called revisionism. At first glance, Splendid Isolation? John Charmley, 2008, A History of Conservative Politics, Palgrave Macmillan. On the whole, Charmley seems less sure-footed when dealing with the Unionist Cabinet of 1895-1902.
In parts, it is almost Macaulay-esque in its partisanship - though, of course, Professor Charmley sends his shock troops into battle under the banner of a quite different political colour. Austria left the League in 1878 due to conflicts with Russia in the ; Bismarck replaced it with the between Germany and Austria-Hungary, which became the when Italy joined in 1882. Charmley very rightly stresses the fact that the term 'isolationism' does not satisfactorily capture the nuances and the subtlety of Salisbury's diplomacy. It was, however, equally true of the mod and late nineteenth century for the topic of 'Splendid Isolation? This touches upon a more fundamental problem concerning Professor Charmley's reading of German policy and strategy. Germany had a large navy which was clearly poised against Britain; she had colonial aspirations; government-orchestrated nationalism was rife in Germany; she was increasingly unpredictable, and to no small degree the cause of the pre-1914 'l'inquiétude de l'Europe'.
Indeed more work on Salisbury's diplomacy in the 1880s would, as Dr, Otte has shown, throw up interesting interpretations of what might be called a revisionist nature. This leads me to his treatment of Grey. In 1866, the Foreign Secretary explained this policy as follows: It is the duty of the Government of this country, placed as it is with regard to geographical position, to keep itself upon terms of goodwill with all surrounding nations, but not to entangle itself with any single or monopolising alliance with any one of them; above all to endeavour not to interfere needlessly and vexatiously with the internal affairs of any foreign country. Nevertheless, the roots and principal tenets of this Conservative tradition are not as clearly worked out as one would have wished. At first glance, Splendid Isolation? I take his point about not construing Salisbury's success as a sign of the strength of his position, and I tried not to do so. Salisbury presented problems with which the book could only deal in passing. Second, he maintains that British imperial and diplomatic fears of Germany were wrong to think that German domination over France would have been followed by German, and not only German, pressure on British interests and wealth overseas.
All three burdened Britain with continental commitments in Europe, and made her, in the words of a more recent Foreign Secretary, 'punch above her weight'. To some extent, indeed, he seeks to do for 'authentic' conservatism what A. He argues convincingly that Derby's passive attitude during the Great Eastern Crisis of 1875-8 was not so much a reflection of his flabby and phlegmatic personality, as has often been argued - and which he undoubtedly had ; but that he was shaped by the core beliefs of the insular 'Country Party' tradition in which he was so firmly rooted. Britain 1846—1964: the challenge of change. This type wants to understand what pressures and priorities, what ethical code, what information and misinformation, what calculations, led - for example - a reluctant Liberal cabinet to declare war on Germany in August 1914.
Secondly, especially in the first part of the book, he deals less with the actual course of British diplomacy than with the politics of British foreign policy, that is the influence of diverse groups and individuals within the Cabinet on policy-making. Charmley very neatly and persuasively outlines Salisbury's approach to foreign policy. This meant Japan could rely on British support in a war with Russia, if either France or Germany, which also had interests in China, decided to join them. And yet, it is not quite as old-fashioned as it might appear. Moreover, by emphasizing the importance of foreign policy traditions, Charmley has identified an important, though perhaps somewhat unduly neglected aspect of international history. An impressive piece of history.
Yet, it is unfortunate that Charmley confines himself to a few en passant remarks on this subject. The Kaiser's Germany of 1914 was not the same any more as the altogether more moderately ambitious Prussia of Bismarck in the late 1860's. More was therefore required to encourage France to remain firm, though the assurances given to Cambon were still too vague for the Quai d'Orsay's liking. Yet, it is unfortunate that Charmley confines himself to a few en passant remarks on this subject. His treatment of Lansdowne's deft diplomacy during the first Moroccan crisis of 1905, giving only vague assurances to France whilst ensuring that France and Germany would not come to a deal at the expense of British interests, is particularly convincing. Otte is right to think that it owes much to Aberdeen, but also, despite his reputation, to Castlereagh. I am afraid we have had no friends.
To some extent Charmley is, of course, quite right: the principal concern with European diplomacy, and Anglo-German relations more especially, has led to the neglect by historians of the geostrategic periphery in great power politics. John Charmley, 2005, 'From Splendid Isolation to Finest Hour: Britain as a Global Power 1900-1950', in Gaynor Johnson ed , The Foreign Office and British Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century, Routledge. Nevertheless there are a number of problems, partly conceptual and partly interpretative. Ironically the reverse was the case: Chamberlain opposed the lease of the Wei-hai-Wei naval base, whereas Salisbury and Curzon favoured it. Charmley very briskly and accurately summarizes Chamberlain's role in the abortive Anglo-German alliance talks in 1898 and again in 1901.
He is right to point that 'the skies had not fallen in and civilization had not ended' following France's defeat in the war of 1870 in which Britain remained neutral p. He specialises in modern diplomatic and political history, and created the 'Rise and fall of British Power' and 'Napoleon to Stalin' modules, on which he still lectures. Renouvin, La Crise Eurpéenne et la Première Guerre Mondiale Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962 , p. This is followed by a survey of Lord Salisbury's long and unruffled ascendancy over Britain's foreign relations, and its sequel under Lord Lansdowne. Petersburg learnt about policy debates in Downing Street. John Charmley charges him with rashly tying Britain to France and, though to a lesser extent, Russia.