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Marlborough: His Life and Times

Narrated by: Sean Barrett
Length: 81 hrs and 23 mins
Categories: History
4.6 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Summary

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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©2015 Winston Churchill (P)2015 Audible Studios

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You had better come prepared

Would you consider the audio edition of Marlborough: His Life and Times to be better than the print version?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

23 people found this helpful

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Sublime

What a book! Such use of the English language to tell a tale of such magnitude. Churchill proves himself to be the master of facts, passion and narrative. The performance of this book by Sean Barrett is a tour de force and must rank in the top 10 performances of vocal narratives. If there is such a thing as a perfect book, written by a perfect author and narrated by the perfect voice... this is it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • MR
  • 04-01-20

An exceptional historical narrative.

Never having read anything by Churchill before I embarked on this massive account of Marlborough's life with a certain amount of trepidation. I needn't have worried. The whole work is written with such intimate knowledge and evident enthusiasm that the reader (listener) is soon swept along by this remarkable tale of Britain's greatest general. His military strategy and tactics are examined and explained in detail in the context of each of his battles as the War of Spanish Succession rolls along on its relentlessly bloody path. At the same time the war history is shown in the light of the equally bitterly fought political struggles which drove, restrained, glorified, and ruined by turns all the players in the unfolding story of Queen Anne's reign. An audiobook lasting more than 80 hours looks forbidding, but this is an amazing piece of historical writing presented absolutely perfectly by a reader with just the right Churchillian tones and is totally gripping to the very end.

3 people found this helpful

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One of Churchill's best.

Great detail and research often drawing on primary historical sources. Excellently read by Sean Barrett one of my favourite audible narrators.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing

This is a huge body of work. The first third is very hard going in all honesty. However, by persevering you are rewarded with the incredible story of Marlborough and the intrigues of England and the continental powers. I thoroughly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Book

Great book well written gives a good insight into Malborough's life and the political patronage of the early 18th century

1 person found this helpful

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Magnificent from Start to Finish.

Oh to know one's own family tree and where you lie upon it. An absolute epic in writing, narration..........And the listening. Over 80 hours of solid history, the history of not just the man but also the men around him. I think it's one of those stories that's makes one proud to be British If only we had leadership like that, today! And behind it all Blenheim! As soon as the National Trust sites are open that's where I'm going. Winston's 'wilderness years' were put to great use in gathering this massive amount of history; family history, national and geographical history. Absolutely superb. The narration by Sean Barrett is also a wonderful piece of work, he must really have liked the subject. He played the young lad in the 1958 film 'Dunkirk'. I think his voice was the right one for this epic, because at times he sounded a little like Winston himself, he did a brilliant piece of narration. And finally a well done to Amazon Audible for being the only place you could get this masterpiece.

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A great book brilliantly narrated

A fascinating and beautifully written history that in itself is a stupendous achievement. Combined with a superb narration by Sean Barrett, this shows the ability of audio books to bring great literature to life in a new medium.

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This book is amazing

I am a great fan of the writings of Winston Churchill and have read many of his books. In all honesty I don't know if I would have had the stamina to read it but the amazing voice of Sean Barrett solved that. It is as though Churchill is delivering it to you personally. It is a must for anyone with an interest in this period. I certainly have gained a deep understanding our history. I have just listened to the last chapter and feel quite bereft. I have been sharing the Duke of M's experiences for so long.

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Great portrait of a great man.

this is a very big book but really worth the effort it takes to listen to it. we see in detail the life of a great man but also the times he lived through, from Cromwell to George I. the vicious fights between whig and tories, the struggle to stop france dominating Europe. its also a treat to hear Winston Churchill's own words and observations. the narration of the book is excellent. I recommend this book

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  • Elizabeth
  • 28-12-16

Long, but what a story!

The Duke of M lived and lead in the middle of fascinating times. Well written, and well-spiced with the author's own point of view. Never ducks a controversy and had strong views. If you are looking for even-handed, this is not. But what fun!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Troy
  • 13-12-16

A commitment to undertake, but well worth it!

This book is a slow burning kettle of surprises that ultimately leaves the reader satisfied. I originally selected it in order to get to know the military situation during the War of Spanish Succession and the story of one of the great captains. The story hits the mark for those seeking military history but veers heavily into politics. At first this was off putting, but quickly becomes equally entertaining in its own right. Churchill again proves that he was a master of turning a phrase and authoring an entertaining history.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Godfree Roberts
  • 17-06-18

Long, detailed and slightly overcooked

In 1934, while out of power, Churchill received a publishers advance of a million dollars in today's money to write this fulsome testimonial to his great, great grandfather, John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, England's greatest military strategist and commander. It was an advertisement for his own political career and gave Churchill the opportunity to right many wrongs previous historians had attributed to his famous ancestor. Since Churchill had access to all the Duke's papers, then kept at the family seat of Blenheim Palace (where Churchill himself was born), he was able to rehabilitate his forebear's reputation with great authority. The work, however, has aged. It is, for today's tastes, over-long and could profitably have been trimmed by a third. The narrator's choice to deliver all ninety hours in a mock-Churchillian accent (a popular indulgence of Churchill narrators) is questionable–especially since Churchill himself abandoned it and spoke clear, unaffected English when, for example, addressing the US Congress. Carping aside, it is a remarkably detailed glimpse into the inner workings and machinations of the War of the Spanish Succession and a first-hand introduction to a host of fascinating historical characters, from kings and Electors to common soldiers. For those who like their history served long, unshaken and unstirred, this is a treat.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Larry Naselli
  • 27-03-19

A history worthy of a long and enchanting telling

Beautiful use of the English language to tell an epic story of a gigantic English hero.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J. Grzeskiewicz
  • 12-12-18

W. S. Churchill's Epic Literary Masterpiece

W. S. Churchill spent much of the 1930's writing this epic tome, to provide what he felt a balance to the previously established history provided by Macaulay which portrayed Marlborough as petty, vain, and frugal to a shameful degree. W. S. Churchill succeeded in full. The world's Greatest General was vindicated thoroughly by this incredibly well researched and well written work. Over a million words, it is not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth the time and effort. As Churchill put it best, as commander in chief, the Duke never stepped foot onto a battlefield he did not conquer nor lay siege to a fortress he did not take. In human history no other general can make such a boast, yet how few people know of the First Duke of Marlborough, and how many fewer know his incredible life's story. Churchill is easily my favorite non-fiction author, and his wit and wisdom is thoroughly applied to every page of this mighty historical work honoring his illustrious ancestor.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Frank H.
  • 26-07-19

Very Interesting and Historically Informative

I liked it very much, even though it was VERY long, For me it shed light on why the founders of our republic were so adamantly opposed to what they called "Factions". The hatred and political warfare between the Whigs and Tories during the period covered were, I now believe the reason that President Washington warned against political "Factions" and their disruptive policies in his farewell speach. Considering how things are today, some 200 plus later, in our Republic, the Great Man knew what he was speaking of.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-01-19

comprehensively researched & convincingly done

an insightful and painstakingly honest narration of a pivotal character in the rise of english dominance in europe. the narrator made me think it was winston himself telling the story

1 person found this helpful

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  • EEEE
  • 25-11-15

WSC

another one in my collection of WSC's audiobook. I enjoyed it very much. I am looking forward to the audible version of the World Crisis ---Churchillian buff...

4 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Lovemore
  • 07-09-20

Remarkable and riveting

Beautifully written in Churchill’s lyrical prose and equally beautifully narrated. An unforgettably story of the complex nature of life in those times yet still relevant in the 21st Century.

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  • Daniel Berman
  • 18-04-20

Marlboro and his Times is a Masterpiece of History. It transcends the vernacular. .

Few know that Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for his Writings. Marlboro and His Times is surely his greatest achievement as a Writer. Wonderful narration and a complex work to understand for even a Historian. A Masterpiece anyone intrested must own and listen.