Subtitled The Life and Likeness of Charles II, this biography by the author of many similar volumes (The Smith of Smiths, Oscar Wilde, etc.) is concerned less with the events of the Merry Monarch's reign than with the man himself, less with his notorious love-affairs than with his skill as ruler and diplomat. ""Gay enough to be intelligent"", a magnificent sportsmen and a reader of men, kindly, generous, incapable of revenge, Charles II of England was far more than the immoral ruler popular history paints points him. Born in 1630, the son of Charles I, Charles II was early schooled in trouble. Fighting as a boy in the Civil Wars and escaping death after his father's execution only by a series of incredible escapes, Charles II spent years abroad in shabby exile, somehow maintaining both his royal dignity and his sense of humor. Recalled to England in 1660, after the death of Cromwell, for 25 years he played, and usually won, delicate diplomatic games with France, Spain and Holland, and at home steered a steady course between sycophants, traitors, plotters and greedy mistresses; he died, beloved and mourned, in 1685. Readable rather than weighty, this book by a master of casual and witty biography should appeal to lovers of English history in its less formidable aspects and to addicts of biography in any era; the name of the author alone should insure its place in lending and public libraries.