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The Armada (American Heritage Library) Paperback – December 13, 1974
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The naval commander of the Spanish Armada, the duke of Medina Sidonia, emerges as the unlikely hero in Mattingly's narrative of the epic events in the fateful year of 1588. Medina Sidonia has for centuries been the primary scapegoat for the failure of the Armada, a fate that the duke himself perpetuated by taking blame for the disaster and frequently admitting that he was not up to the challenge. Mattingly's rejoinder is "hogwash" - Medina Sidonia did an admirable job in leading the Armada to within a whisker of success despite the tremendous odds stacked against it for a variety of reasons. The author suggests that Horatio Nelson himself could have done no better than the much-maligned duke. As far as finger pointing goes, Mattingly condemns the duke of Parma, the Spanish land commander in the Netherlands and generally considered the greatest general of the age, for his failures to be adequately prepared to meet the Armada and sail on to the invasion of England. (Modern scholars such as Geoffrey Parker have vigorously defended Parma's performance recently.)
Mattingly focuses on several aspects of the naval engagement itself that are worthy of note and rather counter to conventional wisdom. To begin with, he rightfully stresses the unprecedented nature of the sea battles that ensued when the Armada met the English fleet off the southern coast of England in the first week of August 1588.Read more ›
Yes, in keeping with the title of the book, the moves by Spanish Armada are covered in a "daily diary" format, which actually serves to better highlight the real driving force of this work. Mattingly loves to dive into all the source material available and gain a sense of the diplomacy, delayed communication, and potential thoughts of the majors players. In doing so, Mattingly presents all the rumors and views (circa 1588), shows how historians have ran with those "facts" (now rooted in a collective memory), but he then corrects and deals those assumptions as flawed, baseless, or plausible. For example, Drake is often given credit for defeating the Spanish Armada, though he was not in command of the British fleet. Contrary to some stories, the Spanish were not damned by poor weather, but actually had the best seas imaginable. These are minor points, but were often touchstones for historical and political spinning. Mattingly does well in not only debunking these "truths" but in determining when and why they began.
This is not revisionist history in the "politically correct" sense of the word.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent retelling of the story of the Spanish Armada and its defeat. What I really appreciate about this particular history is how Mattingly provides his readers with... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Derek
Very readable and informative history, went down like a good novel. I love these histories of events that correct bad, traditional information. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Thor Albro
5+ stars, at level of James McPherson's Battle Crystal of Freedom, my favorite history book...Published 3 months ago by Sarah S. Dunn
This book grabbed me in the first sentences and held me til the end. While ostensibly about the battle between England and the Spanish Armada, it is really about the political... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gary T. Moore
Garrett Mattingly gets off in the weeds a little in this book and that slows down his narrative for those of us who are not historians. Read morePublished 15 months ago by James G. Tittsworth
An excellent book. Very well-written, enjoyable, and easy to read. There's a lot of background on the other personalities and issues of the era as well. Read morePublished 21 months ago by vab
Nonfiction concerning the events of 1587-1589. So many people and concepts to tickle the mind, especially for those of us who enjoy wooden ships and historical conflicts. Read morePublished on July 13, 2014 by MW
HE SHOWS WHAT WAS HAPPENING FROM A SIXTEEN CENTURY VIEWPOINT RATHER THAN IMPOSING 20TH CENTURY VALUES TO THE ACTIONS OF THE VARIOUS PLAYERSPublished on May 12, 2014 by Leo E Sands