Sir Francis Walsingham

The Queen’s Agent

We’re all taught at school that this was a defining period in English history, when our island nation was saved from Spanish tyranny and emerged into an age of unparalleled peace and prosperity. That’s the narrative we like to hear over and over again, perhaps because it provides us with a sense of moral certainty. A truer picture perhaps emerges when you look at it through the eyes of a man like Walsingham. This is history in all its cloak-and-dagger brutality, fascinating but at the same time profoundly unsettling because it reveals that all that ever really happens is that one side is slightly cleverer and more ruthless than the other.

So what was Walsingham really like as a man? Obviously we’ll never know. But I’m glad I’ll never have him as an enemy…

Based on this review I ordered the book. I have been following the reviewer’s blog for a few years now, so I respect his opinions. I also really his book From Cosmos to Chaos: The Science of Unpredictability.

This is the main mechanism for the growth of my library: Someone I read and respect recommends a book. I read it and notice the recommendations in it …. In mathematics this is called a Branching Process. A nuclear chain reaction is a well known example of this. Considered that way, my library is far past critical mass.

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