All facets of Ralegh’s life are wonderfully drawn by historian Alan Gallay. Gallay’s biography is more than just a portrait of one of the world’s most interesting men; it is also an exhaustive study of the first age of the English Empire ... corrects the assumption that he was a 'failed colonizer' given that his experiment in North America never materialized. Gallay also goes to great lengths to show that 'reading history backward from what occurred at its end' is a grave mistake in regard to the first English Empire ... Gallay exposes fascinating pieces of Ralegh’s personality, interests, and the magical world he inhabited ... a brilliant biography of a true one of a kind.
... vividly conjured ... a richly researched and engagingly written biography ... While Mr. Gallay strives commendably to see the colonial experiment in America from the Indian point of view, he tells us frustratingly little about how the Irish felt about their coerced assimilation. This lacuna is all the more puzzling in a book that reaches so effectively beyond simple biography in its effort to plumb the character of an age.
Gallay describes British forays into Ireland, North America and South America in extensive, sometimes suspenseful, detail, and takes an in-depth look at the politics behind Ralegh’s imprisonments in the Tower of London and his eventual punishment by death ... Gallay has crafted a richly detailed portrait of a courtier, poet, author and alchemist who, he argues, should inspire readers to approach history from a different angle.