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Credit: Anchor Books

Mark Lamster’s Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens ($17, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009), now out in paperback, follows Rubens’ lesser-known career arc as a statesman and spy—talents for which he was arguably better known during his lifetime. Lamster himself is something of a polymath: He’s written a book about sporting goods magnate Albert Goodwill Spalding’s world tour to promote baseball, and he’s currently writing a major biography detailing Philip Johnson’s life and career.