Magazine September 20, 2010, Issue

1648 and All That

(Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
Roger Kimball reviews Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order, by Charles Hill (Yale, 368 pp., $27.50)

What should you look for in a top-level diplomat? Brains? Yes. Discretion? Assuredly. An equable temper, or at least façade? Without doubt. (Surtout, said Talleyrand, who knew something about the matter, pas trop de zèle.) A certain cynicism about human nature? See under “Brains.” How about a deep acquaintance with the mountain peaks of literature, from Homer, Aeschylus, and Thucydides through Montaigne, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Milton, and Locke, and on to Madison, Schiller, Dickens, Bismarck, Dostoevsky, Kipling, and Hermann Broch? If Charles Hill, a career diplomat who served under secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, is right, this

Roger Kimball — Mr. Kimball is publisher of Encounter Books, and co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion.

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