Jonathan Walker was born near Liverpool in England in 1969. He was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and has published many articles in academic journals on topics such as gambling and espionage.
Strip away the whiz bangs here-comic-strip sequences, chapters in which the author and friends meet in cafes to talk over their obsession with the past, time-sequence photographs of a flintlock firing-and this is first-rate history, just of a different kind. The flashy stuff works here, with an effect similar to that of Michael Lesy's groundbreaking 1973 Wisconsin Death Trip, where Lesy's pictorial editing forced the reader to look at events a second time, catching nuances that might otherwise have been missed. Walker (research fellow, Univ. of Sydney) describes an incident of spying in 1622 Venice. A master spy, Gerolamo Vano, presents evidence that leads to a Venetian nobleman's hanging on charges of espionage. Five months later, Vano himself is executed for falsifying evidence, and the nobleman is absolved posthumously. But this book isn't just about Vano, about whose machinations the evidence is spotty. It's as much or more a reflection on how one approaches the historical record: how to exhume a coherent narrative from uneven, desultory, and usually self-serving reports. VERDICT This book will infuriate as many scholars as it excites, but it is original, well written, and good. It should intrigue anyone who likes reading history.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"'Jon Walker's Pistols deserves to be called our first true work of 'punk history'. Through the dank Venetian alleyways we pursue the elusive and dangerous spy-master Vano in a story that is as lustily exhilarating as the original Sex Pistols'-Iain Macalman"