Clearly an incredible amount of research and thought went into this book, but despite its dense and intricate subject matter, it's extremely readable and entertaining. Lachman brings (back) to life a broad cast of historical characters and their times. Despite the potential to completely damn or dismiss some of the more potentially disreputable characters, Lachman tends to be careful and fair in his presentation, pointing out the good and the bad. He also sheds light on some more renowned figures, demonstrating that in the flare of youth, many great men toyed with ideas that are not, shall we say, politically correct. But rather than turning the book into a silly expose that would convey only half-truths, Lachman opts for balance, thereby creating a richer tapestry. Enlightening and fascinating stuff.