Marlborough's America


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Stephen Saunders Webb

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Scholars of British America generally conclude that the early eighteenth-century Anglo-American empire was commercial in economics, liberal in politics, and parochial in policy, somnambulant in an era of “salutary neglect,” but Stephen Saunders Webb here demonstrates that the American provinces, under the spur of war, became capitalist, coercive, and aggressive, owing to the vigorous leadership of career army officers, trained and nominated to American government by the captain general of the allied armies, the first duke of Marlborough, and that his influence, and that of his legates, prevailed through the entire century in America.

Webb’s work follows the duke, whom an eloquent enemy described as “the greatest statesman and the greatest general that this country or any other country has produced,” his staff and soldiers, through the ten campaigns, which, by defanging France, made the union with Scotland possible and made “Great Britain” preeminent in the Atlantic world. Then Webb demonstrates that the duke’s legates transformed American colonies into provinces of empire. Marlborough’s America, fifty years in the making, is the fourth volume of The Governors-General.

Stephen Saunders Webb is the Maxwell Professor of History and Social Science, and Professor of History, Emeritus, in the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is the author of The Governors-General, 1676, and Lord Churchill's Coup.

"This is an extremely well-researched, well-written and iconoclastic book that makes an important, if controversial argument. . . . This book is a monument to scholarship."—Steve Pincus, Yale University

“[Webb] presents a splendid panorama of events on both sides of the Atlantic during a crucial era. . . . The result is a signal contribution to our understanding of the making and workings of early 18th-century empire.”—Richard Johnson, University of Washington

"Readers will be surprised to learn just how much of our early history was shaped by none other than the great ancestor of Winston Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, in a work that wears its erudition lightly, but illuminates yet another way in which the Atlantic Ocean was more bridge than barrier between the Old World and the New. Webb weaves a compelling account of the relationships between 18th-century strategy, patronage, and colonial politics. And he does so with a shrewd eye and sardonic wit."—Eliot A. Cohen, author of Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War

“[A] brilliant, unconventional work . . . there's no denying the importance of this book or its likely appeal to readers interested in British, imperial, military, classic, top-down history.”—Publishers Weekly 

“Masterful . . . Stephen Saunders Webb has made us see a great man in an even greater light.” —Thomas Donnelly, Weekly Standard

"Webb makes a valuable contribution by placing the political history of the American colonies in an Atlantic context."—T. H. Breen, Times Literary Supplement,

ISBN: 9780300178593
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
608 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
11 color + 25 b/w illus.
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