Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionageby Stephen Budiansky
Sir Francis Walsingham’s official title was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, but in fact this pious, tight-lipped Puritan was England’s first spymaster. A ruthless, fiercely loyal civil servant, Walsingham worked brilliantly behind the scenes to foil Elizabeth’s rival Mary Queen of Scots and outwit Catholic Spain and France, which had arrayed their forces behind her. Though he cut an incongruous figure in Elizabeth’s worldly court, Walsingham managed to win the trust of key players like William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester before launching his own secret campaign against the queen’s enemies. Covert operations were Walsingham’s genius; he pioneered techniques for exploiting double agents, spreading disinformation, and deciphering codes with the latest code-breaking science that remain staples of international espionage.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 7.94(w) x 4.68(h) x 0.59(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Stephen Budiansky, journalist and military historian, is the author of nine books about history, science, and nature, including Air Power: The Men, Machines, and Ideas That Revolutionized War, from Kitty Hawk to Gulf War II. He publishes frequently in The New York Times and The Washington Post and currently serves as a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.
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If you enjoyed The Succession or Death of the Fox you got a taste for what Francis Walsingham could do for Elizabeth I. Those were well-researched works of fiction, this is non-fiction but equally engaging. Probably most enjoyable are the descriptions of the disreputable characters who became Walsingham's agents, and the way W. used two (or three) agents' tales to corroborate what each other said, all known only to Walsingham. The queen herself is somewhat remote in this study and one could wish the book longer to bring her more fully into the story. And Mary Queen of Scots fans needn't apply-- they aren't so much rebutted as ignored.
The book was stuffed full of facts and figures, but conveyed absolutely nothing about the man himself or gave much flavor to the time period. By the end of the book, I never felt like I got to know Walsingham or the intrigue of the time period. Overall, I would classify this as a scholarly book rather than one that is entertaining to read.
Wonderful easy reading and funny.