Jasper Ridley is no fan of Thomas More. The Statesman and the Saint is a dual-biography, and it is interesting to watch the parallel lives of Wolsey and More unfold. Jasper Ridley seems to believe the worst of More and the best of Wolsey, but he does offer some interesting views of the life of More, particularly how he separated his work life and his private life.
The unhappy aspect about this book is that Ridley seems to bent on presenting More as a dangerous man who was not capable of love; even the relationship with Margaret seems to be more of a reflected interest rather than a mutal connection. At the end of the book, Ridley goes overboard with a dramatic conjecture of how Wolsey would be in the world today. He suggests Wolsey would be a CEO of a company or some other behind-the-scenes power, and More would be a fanatical leader raising armies against those he wanted to eliminate from society.
Much like God's Bestseller by Brian Moynahan, Statesman loses some of its sense of authority by accepting the rumors of More excessively torturing people as fact. Both books are written by established, credible historians, but even stronger authorities, such as John Guy, have discounted much of those suggested abuses.
It is interesting that in America, the book was published as The Statesman and the Saint, and in England it was published as The Statesman and the Fanatic.
Ally Sharp is a teacher, writer and editor, and technology trainer.