Allan Gallay's extensively researched, but above all profound biography of Walter Ralegh makes it unlikely that another, if any, will be published soon. The scope is ambitious, and if he attributes Ralegh to the spirit of British imperialism in America, he doesn't do much. It helps that his subject was the epitome of the Renaissance man, both a courtier of refined sensibility and an adventurer of bold and limitless ambition.
The book is also bold in the context of the collapsing intellectual integrity of the humanities in the American Academy, which is slavishly reflected in Britain. When evaluating Ralegh, Gallay writes too many biographers:
have taken holduring sticks of sand, so caught up in their own cultural concerns that they couldn't tell if he was a hero or a servan...
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