Though there's plenty about Egbert and Aethelbald ("he misconducted himself with nuns"), you can't deny this book's topicality. Blair, Anthony is astutely judged: "not all his initiatives seemed thought out". The Churchill legend is deflated: "A mixture of ruthlessness and impetuosity." An account of Elizabeth II deviates into twittering about "coarse satire". But the book is packed with interest to the final page. Did you know that the poet Sidney died at the Battle of Zutphen?