Summits make such a good topic for historical review that it’s a surprise no one has done it before. It took the felicitous convergence of David Reynolds (the noted Cambridge professor), Blakeway Productions and the commissioning arm of the BBC to launch the project. The television series covers three summits: Munich in 1938, Vienna in 1961, and Geneva in 1985. But Reynolds recognised that three summits do not a book make, so he added three more: Yalta in 1945, Moscow in 1972, and Camp David in 1978. The result is an anthology of top-level meetings which are milestones in twentieth-century diplomacy.
Summitry as a form of political art is a relatively recent phenomenon. The 1520 encounter between Henry VIII and François I on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and Napoleon’s meeting with Alexander I at Tilsit in 1807, qualify as antecedents. But as a general rule, heads of state