Friday, May 27, 2016

Booknotes: Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies

New Arrival:
Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies: The Lincoln Foreign Policy, 1861-1865 by David Perry (Casemate, 2016).

Scholarly interest in Civil War diplomacy seems to be on the upswing. At the turn of the last century, Dean Mahin's well regarded One War at a Time exposed a wide Civil War readership to the subject of international relations, and since then we've seen other books that explore Union and/or Confederate diplomacy from Howard Jones, Amanda Foreman, Wayne Bowen, and others. Being generally unfamiliar with the aforementioned works, a quick skim of the introduction to David Perry's Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies leaves me uncertain regarding how his work might interpret things in ways significantly different from the earlier literature. His book centers a great deal upon Secretary Seward (no surprise there) and addresses questions surrounding the apparent recklessness (at times) of Seward's diplomacy. How Britain would have fared in a war with the U.S., and vice versa, is counter-factual history that interests many armchair commanders-in-chief, and it looks like Perry believes that the U.S. Navy would have been a fearsome opponent for the Royal Navy.

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