What are the mainsprings of international rivalry and conflict and how are they to be uncovered — by international relations theory, history or by the practice of diplomacy? Cyprus is ideal for thoroughly testing theory and practice. The island has been at the epicentre of international relations rivalry throughout its history and to this day Cyprus remains a geopolitical tinder-box with acute tension between Cyprus and Turkey over the Turkish occupation of a third of the island. Hostility has now been transferred to the forum of the EU, with Cyprus as a member and the U.S. and Britain pushing for Turkey to join. Meanwhile in the geopolitical hinterland, Russia remains suspicious of the island’s British bases which project NATO power in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

William Mallinson's approach in analyzing Cyprus's problems and the dangers for international relations is unique. He applies practical hands-on experience of international diplomacy with academic research as an historian and international relations theorist. Mallinson applies international theory to his minute analysis of revealing documents — the life-blood of the historian of diplomacy — and shows how historical research provides the essential basis for international relations theory.