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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

John Burgoyne: The British Playboy Who Lost the Revolutionary War

00:00 31:53
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No British General of the Revolutionary War has been written about more than John Burgoyne. That’s because of his surrender of his army at Saratoga, New York in 1777, widely seen as the turning point in the Revolutionary War. He is considered a reckless lout, and there’s plenty in his life story to support this characterization. He gambled heavily and possibly had to flee England as a young man to escape his debtors. His father-in-law eventually paid Burgoyne’s debts and got him another commission in the army, just in time for the 7 Years War. There he served admirably and became a war hero. But 300 years after his birth, the many lives of Burgyone -- dashing cavalry colonel of the Seven Years War, satirical London playwright, reformer Member of Parliament, gambler in the clubs on St James’s Street – have been forgotten.

Today’s guest is Norman Poser, author of From the Battlefield to the Stage: The Many Lives of General John Burgyone. We look not only at the Saratoga campaign, but also elements of Burgoyne’s eventful life that have never been adequately explored. He was a socialite, welcome in London’s fashionable drawing rooms, a high-stakes gambler in its elite clubs, and a playwright whose social comedies were successfully performed on the London stage. Moreover, as a member of Parliament for thirty years, Burgoyne supported the rule of law, fought the corruption of the East India Company – he was a sworn enemy of Clive of India whom he denounced with all his might – and advocated religious tolerance.
February 14, 2023
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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