Michael J. Levin is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Akron.
"Levin's narrative approach lends impressive clarity to the often complex negotiations he recounts, and he effectively conveys the frustrations of ambassadors faced with the opacities of Venetian politics, the intrigues of their French counterparts, the inconveniently-timed deaths of popes and the unpredictable and expensive conclaves which followed them, and, not least, an all-too-frequent lack of instructions from the king they were supposed to represent ... Levin's clearly-written and well-documented work should ensure that no scholar will take the idea of a 'Spanish peace' in early modern Italy fro granted in quite the same way again."-Jennifer R. Ottman, Renaissance Quarterly "Michael J. Levin is a masterful storyteller who has transformed good old-fashioned diplomatic history in a refreshing way to reinterpret one of the most fundamental questions in European history-how the fiercely independent city-states of Renaissance Italy seemingly became pliant colonies of Spain during the sixteenth century. Levin shows that this traditional dilemma begs the real question because Spanish hegemony was a myth. The fastidious arrogance of the Spanish and their inability to see the situation through the eyes of others led to blunder after blunder, diplomatic embarrassments, and military defeats. Indeed, the emperor had no clothes, a fact even his most dedicated agents could not cover up. I could not put Agents of Empire down as I learned new things on page after page."-Edward Muir, Clarence L. Ver Steeg Professor in the Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University