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Customer Reviews

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The Spanish Armada: Revised Edition
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on January 22, 2018
good read
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on August 24, 2014
What had been mysterious and unexplainable was clearly and concisely explained. This is history as it should be written!
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on September 8, 2001
This book provides an excellent chronicle of the actual engagement between the English and Spanish fleets. All the details of war (like the number of ships, men, even the quality of food carried on board) are here.
The book does provide an account of the geopolitical events sorrounding battle, but I have the impression that the authors were more concerned with describing the battle itself. For a more detailed picture of the diplomatic and political causes and consequences of the Armada, I would refer you to yet another book by Geoffrey Parker: "The Grand Stategy of Philip II").
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on May 30, 2010
I enjoyed this book much more so than Garret Mattingly's "The Armada." That book was a disjointed sequence of short stories.

This book was by scuba divers who found and dove on wrecks from the campaign. Pictures of their finds and the deductions of from what they found enhance and support their analysis and storytelling.

The photographs and drawings were fairly useful, far superior to those in most history anthologies. Probably conceived as a coffee table book, this one is well worth reading and doing so again.
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on December 7, 2007
Colin Martin (underwater archaeologist) and Geoffrey Parker's (historian) The Spanish Armada is an impressive and groundbreaking piece of multi-disciplinary scholarship. The causes and the eventual result of the Armada have never been that open to interpretation but the reasons for the extraordinary failure have been. It is in this field that Colin Martin's excavations contribute vital information.

Philip II's plan for the Armada was as follows: the fleet must sail up English Channel and rendezvous in the Straits of Dover with the Spanish 'Army of Flanders' under the command of Parma (Philip II's cousin). Then, the fleet would escort a substantial part of the army on special boats to Kent. From here, then it was suppose to capture the weak English forces (an entire chapter deals with the deficiencies of the English army and Coastal Defenses and potentially what would happen if the army had landed) and capture London with the Armada sailing along side up the Thames. Philip planned to restore the country to Catholicism, set up some sort of puppet ruler, and have the pope pay for a chunk of the extreme cost. His motives were primarily religious (sent by God to remove heretics) but also he wanted to prevent English aid from helping the Dutch independence movement that was busy fighting the Spanish, and secure newly captured Portuguese empire and its sprawled possessions from pretenders to the Portuguese throne (supported by the English) and legal pirates (Drake and others supported by the Queen).

The most fascinating part of the book by far is not the political build up (sadly, slightly brief in this text) not the reasons for launching, but the reasons for its spectacular failure. The authors propose that the Spanish tactics, that concentrated on grappling and boarding, had not prepared the soldiers for reloading their unwieldy guns as fast as the English since they expected to fire only once. Secondly, the English had professional sailors who did nothing else but fire cannons. Thirdly, the communication in this period was dismal and although Parma had started to prepare his army it was unable to link with Medina Sidonia and his Armada because he thought the fleet would arrive much later. An entire chapter looks at all the causes of the failure (many more than the ones I have listed above). Most of the blame seems to lie with Philip since the individual commanders did their utmost. He relied on the virtually impossible link up between fleet and army to achieve victory which is at once the weakest and most important part of the entire plan.

This books analyzes and dismisses commonly held myths and theories, delves into the fleets with great yet understandable detail, looks at the treatment disparity between the English and Spanish sailors after the war (Elizabeth treated hers VERY poorly in comparison to Philip), and provides multiple helpful images and diagrams. My only important qualm was the fact that the preparation of the Armada itself, overlooked by Medina Sidonia, was only given a cursory look. This book is definitely worthwhile to the scholar and casual historian alike who wants a good look at this fascinating time period.
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on July 2, 2006
This book treats the subject with an erudition and a level of detail proper of a scholar, yet in such an agile and balanced way that it doesn't bore a layman.

As well as factual data, a few conclusions are carefully drawn, with archaeological evidence and illustrations provided in the exact measure to support them.

A book to own and consult often by anyone remotely interested in the period.
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