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March 2010

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Great Negotiations: Agreements That Changed the Modern World
Review by Henry E. Mattox, Ph.D., Contributing Editor

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Fredrik Stanton, Great Negotiations: Agreements That Changed the Modern World, Westholme Publishing; 1st Edition (March 4, 2010), ISBN-13: 978-1594160998, 304 pp., $26

Independent scholar and former editor Fredrik Stanton has researched and written a study with an uncommon area of concentration. It repays reading with close attention to his aim and concepts, as reflected in the title. One may argue with some of his choices of agreements on which to center the study, but his focus clearly makes for an enlightening read. Stanton selective overview of the time span begins with Franklin’s successful negotiations with France in the late stages of the eighteenth century, and it closes with the Reykjavik Summit of 1986 involving Reagan and Gorbachev. All of the negotiations cited unsurprisingly involve U. S. participation, if not necessarily in a leading or central role. All of these negotiations, most with pacific intent, were harbingers of peace, if for limited periods.

That in effect is Stanton’s theme: he addresses in some detail the impact of certain dialogs and agreements that resulted in major changes in the world, and these changes were developed at least initially in peaceful – in some cases postwar – settings.

The accords cited by the author number, somewhat surprisingly, given the length of the study, only seven. Not all involved historically the direct interests of the United States. For example, President T. Roosevelt played a central role in the Portsmouth Accords of 1905 despite the absence of any direct United States interest in the conflict. The lengthy, convoluted Paris peace talks following the First World War eventually struggled along to completion without the United States. (The author did not address the post-World War II negotiations that led to the formation of the United Nations.)


Author Henry Mattox, the journal's Contributing Editor, was a Foreign Service officer from 1957 to 1980, serving in France, Portugal, Brazil, Nepal, Haiti, England, Egypt, and Washington. After retiring he entered academe, studying, writing, teaching, and earning a Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986. He was editor of American Diplomacy from its founding in 1996 until July, 2007.

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