Out of the French Revolution and chaotic years that followed, one name recurs and stays firmly entrenched--Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Born a prince, but disinherited by his father because of a crippled foot, Talleyrand grew up in bitter isolation from his shallow, pleasure-loving parents. Using his amazing intelligence, and his friends, he became priest, politician, excommunicant, diplomat, millionaire, and mastermind of every government from 1789-1834. His ruthless opportunism and personal force emerge from a well-researched background of history. For this reason the reader is unprepared for the author's final summation, which suddenly characterizes Talleyrand as a hero, dedicated, for all his faults, to democratic government and to France. It may be that Talleyrand was an enigma yet unsolved by history, but the young reader will be left more puzzled than enlightened.