"The Dukes" is a magnificent novel about a family, with all the emotions, problems and drama of any large family except that in this case the head of it, Augustus Clarence Fitzstephen Wrottesley Veitch du Bois, the Fourth Duke of St. Ormer, is about to die without an heir. A one-time intimate friend of the Prince Regent and Charles James Fox ... a landed magnate whose huge palace, Chalfont Abbey, is one of the great houses of England ... a rake who has sired many a bastard son and daughter ... he has yet to produce one legitimate heir. But wait! Years of diligent genealogical research have produced the improbable miracle Alfred Boyce, a debt-ridden but ambitious manufacturer of lacquered metal boxes, as thrusting, ambitious, and middle-class as they come. Alfred's first reaction to inheriting the dukedom is, "This has come at a most inconvenient time." But wait again - the Dukedom is near bankruptcy ... he must marry and replenish the line... and a rival heir lies in wait to claim the Dukedom. It's just the challenge to get his blood racing. The story of Alfred's education to his dizzying new position (he becomes the friend and intimate advisor of Queen Victoria, is admired by Prince Albert, attracts the attention of Disraeli), his marriage, his mistress, his children and their adventures, takes the reader from early Victorian England to the end of the First World War, from the barbaric splendor of Imperial Russia to the horrors of the Crimean War, from the Court of St. James to the slums of East London (where the Duke becomes involved in the case of Jack the Ripper, who just may be a very important royal person), from the lush English countryside to the social revolution in the factories and workshops of London.... Epic, three-generational, richly detailed, dramatic, "The Dukes" is the story of a disputed inheritance, a national institution, a great family of soldiers of fortune, heroes, beauties, scoundrels, eccentrics, adventurers, an unbroken line of blue-blooded fascination that covers a hundred years of English (and American) history and social life, an intimate glimpse into the life of a great aristocratic family. Malcolm Macdonald has succeeded in writing a book in the rich tradition of Thackeray, full of characters, life and wit, at once literature and entertainment.