The Watchers by Stephen Alford
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I

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Alford, however, does not allow many scholarly doubts to impede his flowing narrative or inhibit his crisp judgments on individuals and their motives.
-Guardian

Synopsis

In a Europe aflame with wars of religion and dynastic conflicts, Elizabeth I came to the throne of a realm encircled by menace. To the great Catholic powers of France and Spain, England was a heretic pariah state, a canker to be cut away for the health of the greater body of Christendom. Elizabeth's government, defending God's true Church of England and its leader, the queen, could stop at nothing to defend itself.

Headed by the brilliant, enigmatic, and widely feared Sir Francis Walsingham, the Elizabethan state deployed every dark art: spies, double agents, cryptography, and torture. Delving deeply into sixteenth-century archives, Stephen Alford offers a groundbreaking, chillingly vivid depiction of Elizabethan espionage, literally recovering it from the shadows. In his company we follow Her Majesty's agents through the streets of London and Rome, and into the dank cells of the Tower. We see the world as they saw it-ever unsure who could be trusted or when the fatal knock on their own door might come. The Watchers is a riveting exploration of loyalty, faith, betrayal, and deception with the highest possible stakes, in a world poised between the Middle Ages and modernity.
 

About Stephen Alford

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Stephen Alford is a fellow in history at King's College, Cambridge, and the author of the acclaimed Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I, The Early Elizabethan Polity: William Cecil and the British Succession Crisis, 1558-1569, and Kingship and Politics in the Reign of Edward VI. He writes for the Times Literary Supplement and other periodicals.
 
Published November 13, 2012 by Bloomsbury Press. 417 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Keith Thomas on Aug 17 2012

Alford, however, does not allow many scholarly doubts to impede his flowing narrative or inhibit his crisp judgments on individuals and their motives.

Read Full Review of The Watchers: A Secret Histor... | See more reviews from Guardian

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