The first episode in the series tells the story of how Winston Churchill came to write Marlborough, his million-word biography of his ancestor John Churchill.
The first volume describes how John rose from obscurity to be the right-hand man of King James II.
But in the crisis of 1688 John chose political principles over personal loyalty and betrayed James in the so-called Glorious Revolution that set Britain on the course to democracy, and committed her to war with the rising hegemonic power of Louis XIV's France.
Dr David Starkey argues that it was Winston's absorption in the 17th century that helped him to be the first to recognise the menace of a new European hegemony, warning Parliament about the Nazis before Hitler had even come to power.
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