The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader’s Review

John Baker

Discourse on the Art of Negotiation by Antoine Pecquet
Translated by Aleksandra Gruzinska and Murray D. Sirkis
93pp. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2004
Hardcover Edition (US) $ 53.95

Antoine Pecquet (1700-1762) held the position of premier commis (Comparable to an under secretary of state in today’s United States government) in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the reign of King Louis XV. Trained by his father, Pecquet succeeded him as a diplomat and served at Versailles from 1723 until 1740.

Unlike his father who had a long and honored career in diplomatic service, the younger Pecquet was forced out of his office and jailed for a time due to the envy and jealousy of his superiors. His life was further ruined by his son’s repeated business failures which enabled creditors to seize Pecquet’s estate, his inheritance and eventually reduced him to poverty.

Pecquet is the second 18th century French diplomat to write on negotiation in an effort to convince his sovereign and his nation of the importance of the art and skills required of the diplomat. The first of those was Francois de Callieres (1645-1717) who published a work entitled On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes in 1717 (see Reader’s Review in The Negotiator Magazine, August 2003). Exactly twenty years later Pecquet’s book was published in 1737.

Both writers address similar issues: the importance of negotiation to France and their views of qualities and skills required to create successful negotiators. In the centuries that have followed there have been many encore performances on these themes with new ones emerging every month.

Pecquet’s work argues that negotiation is at the heart of human interaction, seeks to persuade his reader of the importance of trained negotiators to represent their nation and then discusses methods of training and the essential attributes of effective negotiators. It is at once a new book, a precursor of a thousand similar books and in the very familiarity of its material both a disappointing and a confirming work.

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July 2005