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Poker Lessons from Cardinal Richelieu

(Original book review by David A. Bell at Foreign Affairs...)

"Armand-Jean du Plessis, better known to history as Cardinal Richelieu (1585–1642), spent most of his career contending for and then exercising control over a deeply divided, indebted, and dysfunctional superpower. His country’s politics were vicious, and its government paralyzingly complex. In short, if he were dropped into Washington today, he might feel right at home.

French historians have long hailed Richelieu as the architect of the absolute monarchy that dominated Europe throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Henry Kissinger, in Diplomacy, dubbed him “the father of the modern European state system.” Even critics, such as Alexandre Dumas, who made him the villain of The Three Musketeers, often cannot help admiring Richelieu’s icy savoir-faire, which is captured in the famous portrait by Philippe de Champaigne that adorns the cover of Jean-Vincent Blanchard’s new biography. As Richelieu intended, it shows a master political player with the ruthlessness necessary to achieve his goals, chief among them raising France to greatness..."


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