Meade Minnigerode can write pretty decent prose. He has a good sense of opening and closing -- there are great buttons on certain sections in this book. He uses repetition of imagery to great effect. But the research. The research... *headdesk*Part of this is not Minnigerode's fault. When this book was written there was much more space between academic history and history-for-pleasure-reading. The latter was not expected to provide detailed references, much to the frustration of modern readers. That said, the bibliography was something of a joke. A few authors were listed by surname only, the remaining were bemoaned as a "long list of countless sources" that he could not trouble himself to provide even in a reduced form. According to Minniegerode, Jean de Batz was a Moriarty-like figure heading multiple, simultaneous conspiracies. His machinations brought down the Convention and in the process were the accidental cause of the Terror itself. He marched at the head of the Royalist uprising of 13 Vendémiaire and took Napoleon's grapeshot in the arm. Unfortunately, Minnigerode has a habit of unattributed quotations and leaps of logic that makes nearly everything in this book suspect. Minnigerorde claims that de Batz had dozens of people in his pocket, controlling them like a puppeteer, but it's never clear exactly how he did this. Charisma? Blackmail? Telepathic control? One passage is especially revealing: Minnigerode asserts that the existence of a spy of Grenville's in the Convention "is no longer scouted in well informed circles; except those, possibly, in which any departure from the orthodox version of the Revolution must, of necessity, be an invention, since otherwise it constitutes an unpleasant disturbing of intellectual somnolence."Translation: "if you disagree with me, you're just lazy and/or stuck in your ways."I'm disappointed that this volume provided some intriguing ideas unsubstantiated by references. Despite this inconvenience, De Batz's story was interesting and inspiring. The epilogue (detailing Jean's return to Paris during the first Restoration) was amazingly evocative and paints a wonderful portrait of the aging and politically impotent Baron de Batz. I've picked up another volume by Minnigerode, this one on poor Louis XVII. Though I expect to enjoy it -- especially as it was written when Louis-Charles fate was still uncertain -- it might be set aside in favour of more modern (and corroborated) texts.