An unusual book. It is a collection of historical vignettes, each about a turning point in history. They include the discovery of gold in California – an amazing story of personal gain and loss – and the dithering of Napoleon’s supporting general at Waterloo.

Their commonality lies in the way they illustrate the reach and power of what Montaigne and others would call ‘fortune’. ‘Fortuna’, the Latin word, conveys a bit more of the unfathomable but profound influence of this…..er…..thing. I call it a ‘thing’ for want of a better word. Is Fortune a concept, a force, or a shorthand name for existence?

The style is peppery and journalistic. A very good book to take travelling, I venture to suggest.

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