The memoirs of senior UK diplomat Sir Peter Westmacott, former ambassador in Turkey, France and the United States during Barack Obama's presidency.
Urbane, globe-trotting mandarins; polished hosts of ambassadorial gatherings attended by the well-groomed ranks of the international great and good: such is the well-worn image of the career diplomat. But beyond the canapés of familiar caricature, what does a professional diplomat actually do? What are the activities that fill the working day of Her Majesty's Ambassadors around the world? Can they exert a real influence on the course of negotiations between presidents and prime ministers and thereby bring about real and beneficial change in relationships between nation-states?
Peter Westmacott's forty-year career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office straddled the last decade of the Cold War and the age of globalization, included spells in pre-revolutionary Iran and the European Commission in Brussels, and culminated in prestigious ambassadorial postings in Ankara, Paris and Washington in the post-9/11 era. As well as offering an engaging account of life in the upper echelons of the diplomatic and political worlds, and often revealing portraits of global leaders such as Tony Blair, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Barack Obama and his then vice-president Joe Biden, They Call It Diplomacy mounts a vigorous defence of the continuing relevance of the diplomat in an age of instant communication, social media and special envoys; and details what its author sees as some of the successes of recent British diplomacy.
A committed Internationalist, Westmacott offers trenchantly Europhile views on the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, and voices his concerns about Britain's ability to continue to bring its influence to bear on the wider world now that it has left the European Union.
'A highly readable account of a glittering diplomatic career, They Call it Diplomacy combines deep insights into the critical foreign policy challenges of the last forty years while also offering valuable lessons for Britain's future international role' TONY BLAIR
'Post-Brexit Britain is once again in search of its place in the world. Peter Westmacott's engaging memoir, drawing on a Foreign Office career that included the top job in Washington, provides a must-read guide to the crucial role for diplomacy in restoring British influence' PHILIP STEPHENS, Chief Political Commentator, Financial Times
'Peter Westmacott was one of the most brilliant and consequential diplomats of his generation, rising to the apex of his service. Anyone interested in understanding how international relations work at the highest level should read They Call it Diplomacy' ANDREW ROBERTS, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny