This entertaining, worldly Life of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans is the chronological successor to the Splendid Century and Louis XIV Lewis is now an authority on this period of French history and shows that his grasp of it, in this panel of the Regency between Louis XIV's death and the accession of Louis XV, is just as sure. If this interval does not lend itself to quite the drama of the earlier one, this is hardly Lewis' fault-- his details of the era are meticulous and in the second half, the book comes genuinely to life. As he says in his foreword- it would have been easy to write a life of the Regent as a ""chronique scandaleuse...he stands self-advertised as one of the leading rakes of the 18th century"". But while not exorcising this side of the man, he has endeavoured to show that Orleans was also a competent soldier, a statesman with advanced ideas, and a man of infinite charm. While some present day readers will be amused by the spectacle of the 18th century licentiousness, more serious readers will be deeply interested in the more substantial qualities of the man and his reign, in particular his attempt to redeem a country bankrupt after the terrible extravances of Louis XIV.