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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

Introduction

Summary

The introduction sets forth the central claim of the book - that the United States has a record of ambassadors, ministers, envoys, and other diplomatic agents disobeying orders that no other country can match - and explains why this is: i.e. Americans' singular conception of the role of diplomacy in national life and how that conception has been translated into the organizational apparatus through which statecraft is conducted. I also contend that, for the most part, this perennial insubordination has been good for the United States, that America would be weaker, smaller, and less prosperous today had diplomats like Robert Livingston and Walter Hines Page not defied Washington and decided to chart thier own courses. In addition, I explain why I have chosen to employ a case-study approach to the subject, identifying several U.S. rogue diplomats who failed to make the "final cut" either because their disobedience did not rise to the level of my nine protagonists or because the consequences of that disobedience were not as momentous as, say, the Louisiana Purchase. Finally, I situate the book within the existing historiography, which, I note, has largely ignored America's uniqueness in this vital dimension of geopolitics.