During the years before the Russian Revolution, diplomats across Europe were widely condemned for lacking the skills needed to cope in the threatening international environment. They were also frequently criticized for being out of touch with public opinion and too ready to clothe their activities in a veil of secrecy. This book suggests that many of these charges were unfair. Important changes took place in the organization of the British Foreign Office in the early years of the twentieth century. Administrative reform even took place in the Russian Foreign Ministry, despite the reputation of the tsarist bureaucracy for incompetence and venality. In both Britain and Russia, however, the role of diplomats and foreign ministry officials was governed above all by changes in the domestic political environment. While they played an important part in determining the foreign policy of their respective countries, their influence was often much weaker than their critics assumed.