A brilliant, objective, serious -- but not heavy -- biography of Richelieu and his era, Richelieu the first great national statesman, the cool calculator who was to rescue France from a state of complete anarchy and exhaustion, and to introduce a new era, the era of the autonomous state. He cloaked his ends with his religious zeal. He manoeuvred his way through intrigue and cabals, and as main executive of the nation, he put France in a key position internationally. The long struggle between Louis XIII, awkward and mistrustful, and Marie de Medici; Richelieu as her personal adviser and later as Cardinal, when she turned against him; Richelieu's part in unifying France, downing Protestantism, undermining foreign powers. He was a zealot, shrewd, cold, ingenious, and full justice is done him in a fine biography. Long life rather than quick sales. The Muir translation is a good one.