This is a study of British foreign policy in a crucial period of international political development. It provides a comprehensive account of the subject, and acts as a guide to the nature of the British state and to the international relations of the period. In 1783 Britain had lost America and was unstable domestically. By 1793 she had regained her position as the leading global maritime, colonial and commercial power. During the intervening years Britain went several times to the brink of war, in 1787 with France over control of the Dutch and their Empire, in 1790 with Spain over the British claim to settle on the Pacific coast of modern Canada, and in 1791 with Russia over the fate of the Turkish Empire. In 1793 Britain and revolutionary France went beyond the brink, a struggle which was crucial for both countries. Each of these crises is examined in an effort to throw light on the British state in an 'age of revolutions'.
'This is an important and impressive book, in which a mastery of detail is allied to an appreciation of longer-term issues. It is diplomatic history written through a knowledge of sources, a regard for the importance of narrative in establishing the truth of events and a capacity to balance continuity and discontinuity in the interpretation of the past.' John Derry, Times Literary Supplement