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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power, politics, and war, 17th-century style - what a mix!
A book that I nearly gave up on, but am glad that I finished. This is pure tabloid fodder. The beginning, chronicling John Churchill's boyhood, early sexual escapades and marriage to the sparkling Sarah Jennings, is fairly yawnworthy. He comes off as bumptious, though charming, and she as arrogant. Together they make a young couple transparently "on the make"...
Published on 14 April 2008 by Anonymous

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3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction giving an overall view of their life and ...
A good introduction giving an overall view of their life and times, but I would be looking for something a little more in depth.
Published 16 days ago by Raymond Fieldsend


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power, politics, and war, 17th-century style - what a mix!, 14 April 2008
A book that I nearly gave up on, but am glad that I finished. This is pure tabloid fodder. The beginning, chronicling John Churchill's boyhood, early sexual escapades and marriage to the sparkling Sarah Jennings, is fairly yawnworthy. He comes off as bumptious, though charming, and she as arrogant. Together they make a young couple transparently "on the make".

John Churchill dumped James II when the latter was unceremoniously deposed through the machinations of his daughters Mary and Anne. During the joint reign of Mary II and and her husband William III John lived to regret supporting William, because the latter levered his Dutch compatriots into power positions. However it was in Anne's reign that this hard-grafting couple's ascent to power began. Anne was besotted with Sarah, gifting the couple with money, position, land and property.

This is not to take away anything from John Churchill's achievements. During the War of the Spanish Succession he and European allies defeated the French at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet. John was created Duke of Marlborough. His home, Blenheim Palace, on the Royal estate of Woodstock, was designed by the architect and playwright John Vanbrugh.

Sarah elevated a cousin, Abigail Masham, to a position in Anne's court, a move she was later to regret. Anne's preference of Masham, plus resentment of the over-mighty Marlboroughs (Anne had given them huge pensions and paid their daughters' dowries), led her to quarrel with and, eventually, dismiss Sarah. Marlborough, who had served his country well, was caught up in this and suffered terribly. His political enemies, fuelled by envy, had open season on him; his political allies were removed from their posts and he wandered off to the countryside, a prey to his blinding headaches.

They finished their days in the reign of George I, rich and living the good life. Marlborough, however, was a broken man. The end of the book shows how Duchess Sarah, managed through her contentiousness to alienate her daughters, grandsons, architect, and new king.

It's a superb saga. But it would have been very much better with the inclusion of campaign maps, a timeline, and even, possibly, a Who's Who. Without them, it is difficult to keep all the strings going, unless you're an expert. Hibbert is sufficiently well established as an author to have merited better graphics in this book, which would widen its appeal.

Great stuff, then, but prepare to work hard, as there is only one large map of Europe - not enough to piece together all the little villages in Belgium, Bavaria, and everywhere else those armies trod....

I still enjoyed it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 19 Nov. 2003
By 
Sean (Northumberland, UK) - See all my reviews
Hibbert's biographies are generally well done. This doesn't reach as far as the grand challenging historical prose of Churchill's His Life and times nor does it offer the detailed military tactics that feature in David G. Chandler's two books on the late Duke. It does however bring in Sarah's later life into the picture and offer a slightly more mainstream biography for those not that bothered with complex military affairs.

He has taken a different path from previous biographies on the two and covered them as a couple, Sarah is even on the cover. This inevitably however leads to it concentrating on John: the great military genius and statesmen. Sarah appears more towards the end (she outlived her husband by some years).

Sarah, the great controversial figure she was, comes across very well. She is humorous, snobbish and stubborn yet somehow you can't help but like her. She is certinally a character. She is in complete contrast to her mild, bland and courteous husband.

The book has beautiful pictures of most of the characters featured in this book, something recent editions of Churchill's books do not have.
A great book for those not just interested in the Marlboroughs but to those interested in the affairs, politics and intrigue of 18th Century courtiers.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars generally a good read, 2 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill 1650-1744 (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book, and despite the fact that it is quite long, managed to read it in a couple of evenings. However, if you are expecting a purely social account of the lives of John and Sarah Churchill, this may not be the book for you. I found the book to contain huge chunks about the battles fought by the Duke of Marlborough, including tactical information and detailed descriptions of military manouvres. The book begins with an introduction to the Churchills' and their magical love affair and ends with the Duchess' widowhood - both charming sections - but the centre part should really be classified as military history - not what I expected at all, but interesting nontheless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Era, 10 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill 1650-1744 (Hardcover)
I greatly enjoyed this book. It is I suppose fundamentally a character study of the Duke and Duchess. In this it serves the Duke well and I found particularly interesting how almost all his (rich and important) contemporaries, friends or foes, tended to acknowledge his deviousness and covetousness. However he lived at a time when the prevailing religion/politics of court and country could swing 180 degrees in a few months. Marlborough was neither an ideologue nor a religious man - in a partisan sense - but a great patriot. Like other great generals - Napoleon and Wellington come to mind - he took great care of his troops, and he was loved and respected by them, as well as by the English public and also by his peers in Europe, more so it seems than by his colleagues at home.

Fascinatingly, while Hibbert describes the Duke as a 'mild Tory', his wife was a fervent Whig. Sadly Hibbert says almost nothing about how her politics expressed themselves, other than the fact that she used to argue with the Queen. In fact Sarah's character doesn't fully emerge until the delightful last few chapters, which made me laugh out loud several times.

Hibbert is a master at letting the characters and feel of the period emerge, and Queen Anne's reign is a time when the divisions of the preceding century were laid to rest. Marlborough and his wife and of course Queen Anne initiated a new era.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, 18 May 2013
By 
Mrs. J. D. Nolan "juliathemiller" (northumberland,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill 1650-1744 (Hardcover)
An excellent book on the foundation of the Marlborough family and the magnificent palace of Blenheim, Christopher Hibbert at his best
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction giving an overall view of their life and ..., 13 Feb. 2015
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A good introduction giving an overall view of their life and times, but I would be looking for something a little more in depth.
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The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill 1650-1744
The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill 1650-1744 by Christopher Hibbert (Hardcover - 27 Sept. 2001)
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