The Borgias: The Hidden History by G. J. Meyer

Yes, we have another tour de force from Meyer. I thoroughly enjoyed his previous book on the Tudors (reviewed here), and even though I acknowledged the criticisms, I felt in the end it was a stand-out in that cottage industry of Tudor biographies that have overwhelmed the market in the last twenty years. Meyer has a similar format in this history of the notorious Borgias, with sidebar chapters that roundout and provide context to the smaller story. Critics of the Tudor biography felt that the sidebars were intrusive. I really enjoyed them. In this biography they are not as "sidebar-ish," if that is a word (um, which is is not), and they feel more integral to the book as a whole. I'm not sure if that is a function of the Tudor story having been worked to death or whether the sidebars in the Borgia story just work better. I can't say. What I can say is that the writing is once again top notch.

Meyer said anything particularly novel in his history of the Tudors, but he said it damn well. I don't know enough about the historical treatment of the Borgias, but it's obvious from the tone of this book that Meyer is on a one-man campaign to free this family from their infamous histories as poisoners, murderers, child abusers, and sexual lechers of the worst kind.

Does he succeed? I think that it does ask important questions, and it does point out that it's very easy for history to latch on to a "version" and then refuse to let go. This is a story of outsiders who become the penultimate insiders



Debris and Detritus (available in trade paperback and ebook formats).

Pen and Prejudice (available in trade paperback and ebook formats).

Roux Morgue (available in hard cover, trade paperback, audio, and ebook formats)

Beat Until Stiff (available in trade paperback, audio, and ebook formats)

Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery Writers of America

Sisters in Crime Northern California Chapter

Independent American Booksellers Association