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As a field, diplomatic history is not generally known for its conceptual adventurousness. To resort to stereotypes, if representatives of the historical profession were invited to a party, the diplomatic historian would be the stiff, bespectacled man in a suit examining his host’s bookshelves in the corner while the cultural historians smoked weed in the kitchen.
If there is a popular image of George II, it derives from the Whig historians of the 19th century, who established him as the counterpoint to their chief subject of 18th-century interest, his grandson and successor, George III.
This book charts the ‘experimental’ peace between Britain and France in 1801–1803, often regarded as little more than an interlude in the twenty-year struggle between the two.
John Charmley is, of course, no stranger to controversy.... How tempting it would be to begin a review of his latest book in this vein.