From Publishers Weekly
Rising from humble roots, Sir Francis Walsingham is a model of a certain type of Elizabethan figure, thriving at an innovative court that preferred service by men of talent rather than by the high nobility. As Queen Elizabeth's secretary of the Privy Council, Walsingham coordinated a number of official and unofficial spy networks, historian Budiansky relates in this fresh look at the Virgin Queen's reign. Corresponding equally with ambassadors and shadowy informants, supervising code breakers and couriers, teaching himself the rules of watching and waiting, Walsingham developed influential models for the roles of secretary and spymaster. Additionally, according to Budiansky, at a time when religion was very much intertwined with both internal and external politics, he proved an early example of the political mindset that put national devotion above religious sentiment. Diplomatic intrigue and attempted conspiracies are natural threads to weave through the stories of Elizabeth's marriage negotiations; her struggle to create a religious settlement; her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots; and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Even readers who are already versed in Elizabeth's reign will find Budiansky's new angles on a much-examined era enlightening. (Aug. 22)
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*Starred Review* A journalist associated with the New York Times
, the Washington Post
, and the Atlantic
the author illuminates a new route to appreciating the distinct personality of England's Elizabeth I and the exciting climate found at her court. Budiansky's take on events isolates one particular--and particularly interesting--thread running through Elizabeth's long and vastly consequential reign: the career of Sir Francis Walsingham as the queen's ambassador to France and, later, as Her Majesty's private secretary. It was during the latter tenure that he organized a spy ring to supply his royal boss with diplomatic information vital to the safekeeping of the kingdom and to affect affairs abroad in favor of the maintenance of her throne. The "case" in which he was most engrossed as spymaster to the queen was keeping up with Mary Stuart's "tricks" to disestablish her cousin Elizabeth and pave the way for her to assume the English crown herself, as well as her own Scottish one. Walsingham himself, however, is not shrouded in darkness and mystery in this vivid account; he emerges full-blown as a "strange and powerful combination" of both Puritan and Renaissance man. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved