A meaty review of The Devil in the Holy Water, or, The Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon appears in the latest London Review of Books.
"In political slander everything is of the moment, and only someone as
immersed as Darnton is in the particularities of 18th-century
publishing, politics and cultural life could possibly do justice to its
noisome unruliness," writes critic Lynn Hunt. "Darnton has patiently assembled his accounts out of bits and pieces from an astonishing array of sources, ranging from manuscript memoirs to underground newsletters and stories told by the libellers themselves, who often denounces each other in their scandal sheets. The reader gets a taste of the thrill of the chase not just from the text but also from a number of telling illustrations taken from the illicit publications themselves. The return on Darnton's investment of time, energy and determination is extraordinary."
The complete review is available online to London Review
of Books subscribers.