Churchill's techniques of government were distinctly unconventional. Energetic, self-confident, and persuasive, he preferred to act outside official civil service channels when the stakes were high. When forming foreign policy, his preferred modus operandi was summit diplomacy-the cultivation of personal contacts to achieve national objectives. At its best his direct intervention could be heroically successful, resulting, for example, in the entry of the United States into the Second World War. At its worst it failed utterly. Either way this was international politics at a level of high drama and high risk.
This book explores Churchill's predilection for direct diplomatic action from his first tentative involvement in 1908 until his retirement as prime minister in 1955. Its principal focus is the period 1945-1955, during which the full force of Churchill's personal diplomacy was directed at sustaining Britain's great power status-in relation to the Soviet Union and the United States-at a time when its own economic power was declining. In particular, after October 1951 Churchill sought to revive with President Eisenhower and with Stalin's successors in Soviet Russia the "Big Three" summitry he saw as the most effective means to forestall a nuclear holocaust and achieve a lasting peace.
Based on an exhaustive scrutiny of official documents and private archives in Europe and the United States, this book breaks vital new ground in terms of both Churchill scholarship and the international history of the Cold War.
Klaus Larres is Jean Monnet Professor in European Foreign and Security Policy and Reader in Politics at the Queen's University of Belfast. For the academic year 2002-3 he is Henry A. Kissinger Professor of Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. Among his publications is The Cold War: The Essential Readings, edited with A. Lane.