In one of my favorite books, On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes, written in 1715, the French diplomat François de Callières spoke to the need for his king and his nation to capture the best practices in negotiation. His fear was that the war machinery of state, reinforced by the comprehensive training of so many French soldiers and leaders in military
strategies and weaponry, could too easily overwhelm the critical role of negotiation—in which so few rules were codified and so few trained.
De Callières’s book would be one of the earliest efforts to teach readers how to negotiate, even if his primary intention was to impart his wisdom to a limited set of readers, and just two in particular: France’s new boy king, Louis XV, and the duke of Orléans, who would rule until his greatnephew was mature enough to govern the nation himself.
Across the centuries, other voices would join de Callières in calling for greater awareness of the importance of negotiation in avoiding deadly conflicts, whether between states or individuals. Following World War II—
with the deaths of fifty-five million and the advent of nuclear weapons— this chorus of voices grew more pronounced. Contributions to our understanding of influence and human tendencies have since accelerated, coming from all fields and including the brilliant voices of people such as my mentors Roger Fisher and Howard Raiffa, as well as Robert Axelrod, Katharine Briggs, Robert Cialdini, Carol Gilligan, Sheila Heen, Herman Kahn, Daniel Kahneman, David Keirsey, David Lax, Isabel Myers, John Nash, Joe Navarro, Bruce Patton, Tom Schelling, Jim Sebenius, Amos Tversky, and Bill Ury.
All of these voices have influenced my thinking and many are reflected in Negotiating with Giants, my nonfiction book, which I’ve drawn upon for a number of the lessons imparted by Everett Nash to Emma Doyle in Weapons of Peace. While Nash was ahead of his time in the clarity with which he communicated his best practices, many of these practices have been employed for hundreds of years, as exemplified by de Callières’s sage book. But arguably, today, in a very different context centuries later, our understanding of human beings and how to influence them for the better
is of greater importance than ever before, given our mounting global challenges.
Weapons of Peace, which I believe is the first full-length novel to explicitly explore the art and science of negotiation in such detail, is my own humble attempt to tell a good story that also broadens the awareness and application of advanced influence skills. By learning from history, we are informed for the future. Through my books, teaching, and advisory work, I add my small voice to those who have gone before me, the goal being to arm citizens and leaders everywhere with this knowledge—to improve individual lives and our world.
I expect that François de Callières, Everett Nash, and Emma Doyle would revel in their exchanges if ever they were united in a single moment in time, and that you, as a reader of Weapons of Peace, might also delight in being a part of that conversation.
Peter D. Johnston