Interest in Nostradamus goes through cycles, usually coinciding with periods of uncertainty and conflict. At the beginning of World War II people turned to Nostradamus for clues as to how and when that conflict would be resolved, and to look for indications that somehow he had prophesized it. Some used Nostradamus for propaganda, or profit, or publicity. Of course, this was also the case after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
This book, published in the early days of World War II, is partially a biography of Nostradamus, partially a historical novelization of incidents in his life, and an attempt to associate his predictions with historical and future events. McCann is at his best in the former parts of the book. He immerses us in the life and times of Nostradamus. Although many of the episodes are fictionalized, they make pleasant reading and appear to be historically accurate. The attempts to match Notradamus' predictions with historical events of the rennaissance are for the most part very well reasoned, and range from plausible to 'hmmm...'.
The book concludes with a rather long section bearing on events of the twentieth century. This part feels tacked on, as if the publisher was eager to get a 'tie in' to current events. McCann hypothesized that the war would continue until late in the forties, and would end because of the restoration of the French monarchy, specifically that a pretender to the throne would be crowned as Henry the Fifth. Naturally, this falls far short of the mark, but it creates perspective for current and future attempts to make specific predictions based on the cryptic quatrains.