In her introduction to this delightfully written ""Personal Portrait"", Vol. I of a longer study of the Dutch prince who became ruler of England, the author, an English historian, writes that ""few historic figures have provoked more reckless statements or more fantastic surmises"" than did William of Orange. In this book, which covers the years 1650-1673, she dispels some of the legends surrounding William's childhood and gives an excellent picture of social and political life in 17th-century Holland. Born in 1650, the grandson of William the Silent and Charles I of England and the posthumous son of William II, the young prince, an heir to the English crown, was ""from his first breath a figure of international importance"". Brought up by his mother and grandmother and liberally trained by a wise tutor, William, barred by political enemies from the hereditary office of Stadtholder, early learned caution and wisdom. In 1672 his uncle, Charles II of England, joined with Louis XIV in an unprovoked war against the disunited Dutch, who retreated before the French until William, then Captain General, opened the sluices; the resulting floods and the fury of his people forced the invaders to withdraw. In 1673 William, then 23, had regained the office of Stadtholder and had nearly united his people.