Sir Basil Zaharoff was an international war profiteer before and during WWI. Various governments honored him, England knighted him and everyone was a little afraid of him. He had started out as a pimp for the cheapest kind of brothel. The experience shaped the final man--he would sell anything regardless of the result and if you didn't want to buy it he would use every temptation to induce you to. The rumors said he started wars, and would supply both sides with money as long as he could supply their arms. He had contacts with all the basic war industries and politicians and kept these active by knowing, sometimes supporting, their vices. Donald McCormick, who did an interesting and readable biography of Lloyd George, The Mask of Merlin, has done an unusual job of tracing down the involvements of a man-who-wasn't-there. Zaharoff was an inspired liar who told stories about himself differently each time and took great care to destroy every personal record. McCormick worked this book up from gossip, personal recollections and partisan writings. Throughout the book, he emphasizes the questionable natUre of his source material. His intent has been to focus attention on the role of the middle men, the instigators and wholesalers of war, and pose the question of whether or not these shadowy powers behind thrones can still exist, to finds, out if such operators are still a factor. A responsible biography, an unnerving but essential question.