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In Drazin (film studies, Univ. of London), long-neglected Frenchman Nicholas Foucquet (1615-80) has finally found a sympathetic chronicler of his fascinating and influential life. Foucquet was born into the noblesse de robe and thanks to his father's wealth and connections obtained a key position with the Parlement of Paris when he was only 20 years old. By the time Cardinal Jules Mazarin gained ministerial control of the French monarchy, Foucquet had already shown himself to be an astute practitioner of the intricate methods of generating wealth for the Crown, for Mazarin, and for himself. His financial skills led to his appointment in 1653 as superintendent of finances, but his extravagant lifestyle proved to be his downfall. Foucquet's opulence enraged an ascending Sun King (Louis XIV), and he was thrown into prison, where he died a lonely death. Drazin portrays Foucquet as a complex character whose grasping ambition was tempered by a devotion to the arts and the pursuit of knowledge; much of his wealth went to paintings and manuscripts that contributed to the European cultural awakening. Drazin's characterization of Foucquet's fate provides graphic insight into Louis XIV's concerted and successful effort to gain administrative control of his monarchy. Although written by a nonspecialist and with the general reader in mind, this biography should be considered by any library with a strong 17th-century French history collection.