To leaf through it is to see the Regency period brought vividly to life.
Yet this does not and cannot cancel the book’s other problems, and in the last analysis it is simply not a good book. Its tendency to offer quotations and facts without attribution, its apparent ignorance of recent Byron scholarship and its maddeningly byzantine apparatus undermine it as a source for scholars, while its assertion of opinions and beliefs about Byron as if they were truths risks the possibility that a non-scholarly reader will take subjective and questionable claims as fact and come away believing the poet to be things he was not.
Peattie probes the neuroses of the private man, but his book’s rich parade of illustrations also documents Byron’s self-presentation as a public figure...
Peattie’s book is the portrait of an elusive, paradoxical man, a poet who thought that words were as expendable as breath, a narcissist who disliked himself and a celebrity who laughed at his own publicity.