Reading, society and politics in early modern England. Edited by Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pp. ix+363. ISBN 0-521-82434-6. £50.00.
The politics of information in early modern Europe. Edited by Brendan Dooley and Sabrina A. Baron. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. Pp. viii+310. ISBN 0-415-20310-4. £75.00.
Literature, satire and the early Stuart state. By Andrew McRae. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. ix+250. ISBN 0-521-81495-2. £45.00.
The writing of royalism, 1628–1660. By Robert Wilcher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. xii+403. ISBN 0-521-66183-8. £45.00.
Politicians and pamphleteers: propaganda during the English civil wars and interregnum. By Jason Peacey. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. Pp. xi+417. ISBN 0-7546-0684-8. £59.95.
The ingenious Mr. Henry Care, Restoration publicist. By Lois G. Schwoerer. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Pp. xxvii+349. ISBN 0-8018-6727-4. £32.00.
In 1681 the Italian newswriter Giacomo Torri incurred the wrath of the French ambassador to the Venetian Republic with his anti-French reporting. The ambassador ordered Torri to ‘cease and desist or be thrown into the canal’. Torri, who was in the pay of the Holy Roman Emperor, responded to the ambassador's threat with a report that ‘the king of France had fallen from his horse, and that this was a judgement of God’. Three of the ambassadors' men were then found attacking Torri ‘by someone who commanded them to stop in the name of the Most Excellent Heads of the Council of Ten … but they replied with certain vulgarities, saying they knew neither heads nor councils’. Discussed by Mario Infelise in Brendan Dooley and Sabrina Baron's collection, this was a very minor feud in the seventeenth-century battles over political information, but it exemplifies several of the recurring themes of the books reviewed here. First, the growing recognition by political authorities across Europe that news was a commodity worthy of investment. Secondly, the variety of official and unofficial sanctions applied in an attempt to control the market for news publications. Thirdly, the recalcitrance of writers and publishers in the face of these sanctions: whether motivated by payment or principle, disseminators of political information showed great resourcefulness in frustrating attempts to limit their activities. These six books investigate aspects of seventeenth-century news and politics or, alternatively, seventeenth-century literature and politics – the distinction between ‘news’ and certain literary genres being, as several of these authors show, often difficult to make.