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The Arch-Conjuror of England: John Dee
by Glynn Parry
Yale, 25 [pounds sterling], pp. 336, ISBN 9781307117096
Like the dyslexic Faustus who sold his soul to Santa, the life of John Dee was a black comedy of errors. His vain and vulgar efforts to harness the occult for material ends often rendered him ridiculous. But there is a darker tale in Dee's work for the Tudor state: a story of dodgy dossiers, fear-mongering and greed.
During the Tudor period no clear distinction was made between science and magic. John Dee's study at Cambridge of arithmetic, geometry and astronomy enabled him to become a navigational consultant, who worked …