John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1644-1722), was one of the greatest military commanders and statesmen in the history of England. Victorious in the Battles of Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) and countless other campaigns, Marlborough, whose political intrigues were almost as legendary as his military skill, never fought a battle he didn't win.
Marlborough also bequeathed the world another great British military strategist and diplomat, his descendant, Winston S. Churchill, who wrote this book to redeem Marlborough's reputation from Macaulay's smears. One million words long and ten years in the making, Churchill's Marlborough stands as both a literary and historical masterpiece, giving us unique insights into the Churchill of World War II, for just as Churchill's literary skill helps us understand the complexities of Marlborough's life, so too did his writing of Marlborough help Churchill master the arts of military strategy and diplomacy.
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You had better come prepared
For historians and serious history students, a work of this complexity is more suitable in written form. However, I would not have had the patience or the eyesight to read this mammoth work. I must thank Audible for making the audio edition available.
I only gave Churchill's hagiography of his famous ancestor a rating because I had to. Certainly Sean Barrett deserves 6+ stars. To provide an 80+ hour performance which does not annoy or irritate the listener is a real art.
This is an uncompromising book. It assumes the reader has a working knowledge of English and European 17th century history and social conditions. Any listener is recommended to be armed with a detailed map of Europe in 1700. I have a good knowledge of Flemish geography, having lived in villages which Marlborough's army marched across, but I was constantly running to my historical atlas. Names of British politicians change when they are ennobled, so if you lose concentration, you may miss that Henry St John suddenly disappears and Bolingbroke enters stage left.
The book was written 80 years ago in WSC's best florid Victorian style, so the prose can seem unusual at times.
However, despite these cautions, I do recommend it to those with an interest in history and politics, if only as a reminder that the ambitions and machinations of today's politicians are no different to those of their predecessors.
- Amazon Customer
One of Churchill's best.
- D. J. C