This book touches many large matters,"" Mr. Miller tells us in his prologue, ""--the end of the Middle Ages, the discovery of America, the Inquisition, the Reformation. Its theme, for the analytically minded, is the rise of Spanish hegemony in Europe and the beginning of that hegemony's decline. But primarily it is the story of four people: Isabel the Catholic, Fernando the Catholic, Juana La Loca, and Philip the Handsome."" There are a great many ways of writing history and biography, and almost all, no doubt, have their virtues. Mr. Miller has chosen not to disguise his partisanship by donning the currently popular garb of ""objectivity"". He is frankly a great admirer of Isabel, and would like to have his readers share his enthusiasm for her. He also sympathizes deeply with the ill-starred Juana and would have us take her part against her shallow, overbearing husband, Philip, her unscrupulous father, Fernando, and her son, Charles V. Miller is a powerful, extremely persuasive writer, with the ability to project his people vividly against their environment; he describes the exciting and tragic events which crowd this period in lucid and unforgetable if not impartial language. The central actions progress as ineluctably and as thrillingly as those in Greek drama. It is always a pleasure to find an historian who can portray kings and queens as human beings with emotions and inner conflicts as well as ideas motivating them; and Mr. Miller belongs in the vanguard of such convinced historians writing today.