This stylish and highly entertaining account of the origins of the Franco-Dutch War of 1672 is based on massive archival researches covering twelve countries. Contrary to the accepted historical opinion that there was a meeting of minds within Louis XIV's conseil d'en haut over the desirability of the war, Professor Sonnino chronicles a story of bitter division, in the course of which the contrasting personalities of the king and of his most intimate advisors emerge in vivid detail. Racine once eulogized the war as a brilliantly executed venture which put the insolent Dutch in their place. Saint-Simon, on the other hand, saw it as the disastrous result of endemic jealousies, in which Le Tellier and Louvois sought to displace Colbert in Louis' affections. From these early views the modern consensus, in spite of occasional dissenters, has gradually evolved. Professor Sonnino, however, breaks through the maze of interpretations with decisive new evidence, and in an unusually clear and lively evocation of the emotional element which pervaded high policy, explains the many agonizing decisions that preceded one of the most dramatic conflicts of the seventeenth century.