Few Americans, and indeed few historians to date, have demonstrated an understanding of the circumstances under which independence was secured for the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Even the seemingly paramount fact is seldom appreciated: that our revolution was merely one small piece of business in ""the rival stakes of empire...of belligerents caught up in a world war."" Until now, the garbled and incomplete accounts made true assessment of the events impossible. Professor Norris' accomplishment is therefore all the more monumental. Building upon a lifetime of distinguished scholarship in and around the period, he has devoted ""some five years"" to this particular subject, sifting through the diplomatic archives of dozens of cities throughout Europe as well as sources closer to home. The volume drawn from his findings is definitive and fascinating. This story of Franklin, Aristas, Jay, and the unlucky Henry Laurens has the excitement of spy drama. ""Neophytes in the arts of secret diplomacy at the start,"" these men ""rapidly acquired a measure of sophistication sufficient for the task at hand."" An exceedingly delicate, difficult, and sometimes nasty task it was. At once commanding the intricate geopolitical factors, sensitive to the underlying economic and social forces, alert to the human elements involved, this book is a considerable achievement.