A biography of taste, though probably limited in appeal to those to whom the subject and the period (17th century Europe) are of interest. Polished prose, and a selectively-detailed recreation of political patchwork and devious diplomacy, as setting for the story of the subtle, corpulent, quent able who was to become Cardinal of Spain and one of the powerful manipulators of his era. Born in of lowly origin, Alber was assi Par with the army under -- first in later in Spain. There is arranged the marriage of Philip V and the Far he acted as impro is the he fostered reforms and alliances; he parried with France and England but broke when their combined opposition forced his hand into war. Defeated and discredited for a time, he returned to Italy and the Papal Court and until his death retained power there...Portrait of a ""glittering and expensive hurlyburly"", of a century of power politics, of a significant figure.