Continuing the provocative reappraisal of the Anglo-American empire last explored in his 1676: The End of American Independence (LJ 5/15/84), Webb argues that there was no "Glorious Revolution"; what occurred in 1688 was a military coup led by John Churchill (later duke of Marlborough). Webb's insistence that parliament and the colonial assemblies were bit players in this struggle is unconvincing; his iconoclasm at times leads to annoying overstatement, e.g., he labels Louis XIV the "French Hitler." The strengths of his very interesting book are its well-documented demonstration of personal and institutional ties among political and military leaders throughout the empire, the attention it focuses on the military's role in the revolution, and Webb's argument that Britain and its colonies must be studied side by side. For informed readers and scholars.-William B. Robison, Southeastern Louisana Univ., Hammond
Having argued in his 1976 The Governors-General that Anglo-America of 16th and 17th centuries was an empire administered by the army officer corps, Webb (history, Syracuse) now recasts what is grandly known as The Glorious Revolution--1688 in England and 1689 in America--as a military coup fueled by religious fear that sparked a century-long war for American empire. John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough is his principal character. Knopf published the first edition in 1995. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Webb offers an exhaustively researched appraisal of a key figure, John Churchill, in the fall of James II from the throne and the consolidation of parliamentary government. It was his desertion that sealed James' fate, and the author explores the ramifications throughout the nascent English empire of that adroit withdrawal of loyalty. Webb builds up to that point with the story of Churchill's career, which flourished on his native military talents and James' patronage. The years 168588 were the hinge: at first Churchill was staunchly loyal, bloodily suppressing the Protestant duke of Monmouth's challenge to James' accession. But the drift of English and international politics was away from the catholicizing James, a champion of absolutism and alliance with the Sun King in France. Webb's thesis avers that beneath the specifics to the climax of the religio-power struggle (with each regiment's revolt duly footnoted), an aggressive English imperialism was straining at the bit, to be released by the invitation of Churchill and others to William of Orange to invade. Best for dedicated students to engage Webb's idea that the Glorious Revolution was not a revolution but a military coup.