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Bestselling military historian Richard Holmes delivers an expertly written and exhilarating account of the life of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough and Britain's finest soldier, who rose from genteel poverty to lead his country to glory, cementing its position as a major player on the European stage and saviour of the Holy Roman Empire. John Churchill is, by any reasonable analysis, Britain's greatest-ever soldier. He mastered strategy, tactics and logistics. His big four battles, Blenheim (which saved the Holy Roman Empire), Ramilies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet were events at the very centre of the European stage. He captured Lille, France's second city, overran Bavaria and beat a succession of French marshals so badly that one, the squat and energetic Bofflers, was rewarded by Louis XIV for only losing moderately.A coalition manager long before the phrase was invented, he commanded a huge polyglot army with centrifugal political tendencies and bending it to his will by sheer force of personality.Yet John Churchill was also deeply controversial. He accepted a pension from one of Charles II's mistresses for services vigorously rendered. He owed his rise and his peerage to James II yet, determined to be on the winning side, he deserted him in his hour of need in 1688. He maintained regular correspondence with the Jacobites while serving William and Mary and with the French while fighting Louis XIV. He made money on a prodigious scale, but was notoriously tight-fisted, long regretting an annuity given to a secretary whose quick-wittedness saved him from capture. But in the age when commissions were bought and sold, and commanders often owed their position to the hue of their blood, he never lost his soldier's confidence.
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About the Author

Celebrated military historian and television presenter Richard Holmes is famous for his BBC series 'Rebels and Redcoats' and 'Wellington'. He is the author of the best-selling and widely acclaimed 'Redcoat' and 'Tommy' and his dozen other books including 'The Western Front', 'Dusty Warriors' and 'Sahib'. He is general editor of 'The definitive Oxford Companion to Military History'. He taught military history at Sandhurst for many years and is now Professor at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. He lives near Winchester in Hampshire.


'Richard Holmes goes far beyond the life of John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, to depict the moral and political landscape of an entire age in this rewarding biography of the British general!Holmes is as thrilling on his subject's romantic devotion to his wife!as he is on the battles.' Sunday Times 'We should...welcome a new biography of the man who was so admired by Napoleon and...Winston Churchill - especially if the biographer is Richard Holmes, whose background is a happy blend of military academia and media friendliness. Professor Holmes tackles his subject at a Light Infantry pacem cracking through a wide-ranging biography with confidence and good humour.' Independent on Sunday 'The appeal of Holmes's books is not merely their authority but their style. His lightness of touch makes these 500 pages a joy to read as well as an education.' The Times 'Richard Holmes's new probably as comprehensive an account of Marlborough as any single volume can hope to be...there is nobody writing who can move from column into line quite as smoothly as [he] does.' David Crane, Spectator 'When it comes to balancing tales of Marlborough's flaws with those of his genius for war, Holmes discharges his material relentlessly...His descriptions of the general's tactical system, the way he ran his armues...are all excellent.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'His lucid descriptions of the battles...make this work outstanding...Holmes has written what must be the best, because fairest, biography of Marlborough.' Daily Telegraph 'Fascinating and revealing...Holmes has done his subject full justice by crafting a quite brilliant, judicious and fully-rounded portrait that should go some way to restoring Marlborough's reputation as a truly Great Briton.' Sunday Telegraph 'A very good read, about a very great man' Independent on Sunday 'Outstanding...Holmes has written what must be the best, because the fairest, biography of Marlborough' Daily Telegraph 'As comprehensive an account of Marlborough as a single volume can hope to be. Holmes is at his best... that eye for detail, grasp of subject, deployment of sources, combine to produce as lucid and vivid an account of warfare as one could ask for' Spectator 'Richard Holmes goes far beyond the life of John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, to depict the moral and political landscape of an entire age in this rewarding biography of the British general. Holmes is as thrilling on his subject's romantic devotion to his he is on the battles.' Sunday Times 'Richard a good storyteller...his chief interest remains those battles where maps and tactics are more important than charm, uncertainty and luck' The Economist 'A modern, up-to-date "life and times" written in a jaunty style...those who enjoyed Holmes's earlier works...will know what to expect' THES Praise for 'Redcoat': '"Redcoat" is not just a work of history but of enthusiasm and unparalleled knowledge. This is a wonderful book, doing justice to men who have long deserved a chronicler of Richard Holmes' skill.' Bernard Cornwell 'It would be hard to exaggerate the excellence of this book. Vivid, comprehensive, well-written, pacy, colourful.' Simon Heffer 'A wonderful book, full of anecdote and good sense. Anyone who has enjoyed a Sharpe story will love it.' Bernard Cornwell, Daily Mail 'Redcoat is the story of the British soldier from the Seven Year War through to the Mutiny and Crimea. It is consistently entertaining, full of brilliantly chosen anecdotes and rattles along at a good light infantry pace.' David Crane, Spectator 'All the best-known soldier writers are discussed here, and their anecdotes are told with enthusiasm and aplomb! This is an army from another world, and Redcoat is a splendidly entertaining, moving and informative description of its strengths and foibles.' Hew Strachan, Daily Telegraph

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