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This wide-ranging collection of essays covers not only a selection of themes but also various regions of the world and different historical periods # from the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century to Russia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America today. The title essay exposes the mesmerising effect of novelties in much contemporary analysis of diplomatic practice. Other essays argue that embassies are never so important as in war; stress the point that reciprocity in diplomacy helps to limit the damage caused by conflicts over espionage; explore the neglected question of why states sometimes prefer to negotiate away rather than at home; and, finally, maintain # against much fashionable emphasis on classroom instruction # that there is nothing in principle wrong with on-the-job diplomatic training. Whether new or old, all of the essays are unified by the theme that professional diplomats are indispensable.