A few years ago, a French reader congratulated me on my marvellous biography of Napoleon. Yes, I agreed, it’s a terrific read — an absolute blinder. But I had to be frank and reveal that, alas, I wasn’t Frank. I confess to being a little envious of my approximate namesake, Frank McLynn. A hugely successful popular historian who has the freedom to write on just about any subject he damn well pleases: Marcus Aurelius, the Burma campaign, the battle of Hastings, Jung, the Wild West. He even has a sideline on Hollywood greats. With some two dozen books to his name, he has clearly grasped the baton from Christopher Hibbert. Such eclecticism should come at a price — and occasionally it does, if only a nominal one — but he keeps his many readers happy, and will do so again with his new book.