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Sir Walter Raleigh: Being a True and Vivid Account of the Life and Times of the Explorer, Soldier, Scholar, Poet, and Courtier--The Controversial Hero of the Elizabethan Age Paperback – September 9, 2004
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"Splendid." -The Wall Street Journal
"A stirring account of an intriguing character." -The Sunday Times
"Outstanding biography . . . A Book of the Year." -Literary Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Raleigh is today mostly remembered for the story of placing his cloak in a muddy puddle so Queen Elizabeth could walk across without getting her clothes dirty. But like so many in those days when merit, constant deadly risk and hard, constant work created a path to rise in the world, he was a polymath: poet, diplomat, warrior, sailor, courtier, and family man. Trevelyan brings all those characteristics of Raleigh, and more, to life.
Almost all of what we see of Elizabethan times is through the lens of Elizabeth herself, or through the lens of viewing Shakespeare. Both Elizabeth and Shakespeare appear here (Shakespeare only a few times and on the edges), but they are not the main focus. Instead, the main focus is on people less grand, and that focus makes Raleigh’s story even more interesting. All sorts of characters are here. Raleigh’s half-brother Humphrey Gilbert, who led butchery in Ireland, claimed Newfoundland for the Crown, and foundered in his ship in a storm, shortly after exclaiming “We are as near to Heaven by sea as by land!” The putative sorcerer John Dee of Mortlake. Francis Bacon. Pocahontas. Edmund Spenser. Robert Devereaux, second earl of Essex, executed by Elizabeth for a pathetic rebellion. Christopher Marlowe. And many more.
A considerable portion of the book is taken up with Raleigh’s voyages to the Americas, in particular to what is now Venezuela and Guyana, searching for gold. Nowadays we associate South and Central America with Spanish colonialism, but the British vied in some parts of South America with the Spanish, though without lasting effect. Raleigh was also largely responsible for the disappeared colony at Roanoke, Virginia and participated in a number of other schemes. Americans typically learn about these events through the prism of the colonists themselves, rather than the organizers, so these sections of the book may be of particular interest to Americans.
Altogether, an excellent read.
I HAVE JUST BEGUN THIS BOOK AND NOW AFTER PAYING FOR IT I CAN'T TRUST ANYTHING THAT IT SAYS IS ACTUALLY FACTUAL!
The depth of research is astounding, and I was particularly impressed that the author had actually traveled to all the key locations, offering a level of colour and feel not otherwise possible.
There is also a great detail of content outside of Sir Walter's own life that is immensely valuable for providing context (so important when reading about another time and place). For this amateur Elizabethan student, the opportunity to read about my favourite characters and the key events of the age from a different perspective was truly enjoyable.
At times the book shows the author's bias, but he carefully lets us know when it's his opinion, and I for one welcomed it based on his depth of knowledge.
Bravo to the author, and to those considering reading this book, a big word of encouragement. Enjoy!
Also recommended: Benjamin Franklin and McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood
I've read half of this 500+ page book. WR was talented/hardworking, and a great poet with his subtle paens to his (at least) mind-lover, Queen Elizabeth, known to the public for throwing his cape over the puddles in her path!
If I were still a 'book worm', I would have sat in one place until finishing this one!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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