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Hardcover The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580 Book

ISBN: 0802714056

ISBN13: 9780802714053

The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580

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Book Overview

On September 26, 1580, Francis Drake sailed his ship, the Golden Hinde, into Plymouth Harbor on the southwest coast of England. He had long been given up for lost, and rumors quickly circulated about where he had been on his three-year round-the-world voyage, and about the plunder he had brought home to fill Queen Elizabeth's treasury. However, a veil of secrecy was immediately imposed on the expedition: Drake's journals and charts were impounded,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Adventurous, thought provoking

Once the reader gets past the European political chess games of the day, this is a bold, daring and energetic portrayal of possibly the most celebrated English navigator to sail the seas. Not only does Bawlf lure the reader into Drake's numerous exploits around the world, but he also augments the attention level as far as Drakes' secret undertakings to locate the infamous Strait of Anian. His voyage to search out the Northwest Passage is a thrilling experience of confronting and battling storms, plundering Spanish treasure fleets, capturing naval captains, day to day survival tactics, etc. The author does justice in examining the secretiveness and elusiveness of Drake's northern Pacific mission by detailing and meticulously picking through the available literature to vindicate his whereabouts. Possibly the first expedition to traverse the Pacific into its far northern limits, Drake then heads south to explore Vancouver Island and the Columbia River, two centuries before Cook and others. For the most part, Drake was the gentleman's pirate, always treating his captives with the utmost regard. Many of his short-term prisoners had a high reverence for the man. It goes without saying, he frustrated Spain's King Philip by constantly evading his nautical strategies. A very enjoyable and insightful read.

An entertaining important account

This wonderful account is required reading for anyone interested in Piracy, the English Navy or exploration. Sir Francis Drake was a legend and his exploits are almost unbelievable. He almost brought Spanish trade to a standstill in the New world. He Sacked Cadiz and he helped defeat the Spanish armada of 1588. And in 1577-80 he circumnavigate the globe, becoming only the second person to do so since Magellan. Even more extraordinary he did so not for explorations purpose or to seek out trade, but mostly just for the hell of it. Drake went around the world because he had already navigated the straits of Magellan and entered the pacific to raid Spanish trade around Chili and the Philippines. By the time he was near the Philippines it was actually easier for Drake to go west rather then turn back. The authors main argument and reason for writing this book is to investigate what Drake did for the many months that are unaccounted for in his voyage. The Authors argument, based on some evidence, is that Drake discovered/mapped the Northwest, including the coasts of Vancouver, Oregon and Alaska. Most of this information was omitted from official account, most likely because Queen Elizabeth wanted to establish a colony on the west coast of America to rival the Spanish Main. The author explores much of Drakes life as well as covering the circumnavigation in depth. This is an important work that investigates a Pirate turned accidental explorer who helped map a region of the world that wouldn't be acknowledged and re-mapped for almost a hundred year or more. A wonderful account, very entertaining and easy to read.

A necessary telling

Samuel Bawlf's account of the secret voyage Sir Francis Drake undertook from 1577 in order to (dis)prove the theoretical Strait of Anian (as predicted by the Flemish geographer, Abraham Ortelius) that provided a northern passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is a remarkable account of exploration by one of England's most revered heroes. By piecing together cryptic notes in maps that Drake later gave to his friends after Crown refusal to publish the true account of the voyage of the Golden Hinde, Bawlf presents a more enlightening read of a voyage that has had the official cloak of secrecy about it for the past five centuries.The author's four part book opens with Drake's privateering in the Carribean at the hands of John Hawkins and his saving of the Judith after the English fleet destruction at San Juan de Ulua. After necessarily giving a brief political sketch of the European powers at the time, Bawlf plunges into Drake's Private War on the Spanish from 1569 to primarily on the Isthmus of Panama, plundering Spanish-looted South American gold. Focusing on his attempts to gain the gold and gems bound for Nombre de Dios we are drawn into a compelling story of one wasted ambush after another until he finally attained success with the aid of the Frnech captain Le Testu and the cimarrones. After the ordered cessation of his privateering he turned his aims towards ther Southern Sea and a passage to Cathay and we learn muh of the politics surrounding Frobisher's claim a strait did exist to Cathay, Walsingham, John Dee and the effort to get an expedition eventually be headed by Francis Drake.Part II deals with his circumnavigation around the globe as per the official reports of the time. Sailing down South America's Eastern coastline he navigated the treacherous waters of Magellan's straits, discovered that Terra del Fuego is actually a very large island and displayed those almost hollywood-esque tendencies of being a gentleman cosair but his dealings with the traitorous John Doughty showed a man of steel. Once in the Pacific he became the scourge of the Spanish, eventually returning with huge amounts of plunder. It ends with reference to the inordinate amount of time it took him to sails through the Indonesian archipelago (6 months)Part III deals with his later life, returning constantly to the theme that the details of his voyage were deliberately obscured by the Elizabthan government, pointing to various maps by the great cartographers of the time that show no landmass indications above 50 degrees latitude were permitted. We touch on his famous raid on Cadiz, his destruction of the Spanish Armada, the questioning of his achievements by Cavendish, and his subsequent death from dysentry in the Carribean. Bawlf touches on accounts of his voyage after his death, particularly on resumption of hostilities with Spain during 1625 and how his journey passed into popular myth. Further attempts to prove the existence of the Anian Stra

A great historical composition.

Bawlf does a great job of telling the story of the man that first circumnavigated the globe. He tells us of the battles fought, the seamen hanged, the gales that beat down on them, and does it all with extensive use of various resources that seem to have taken a long time to research. This is the first book that I've read on the subject, so I cannot speak of any discrepencies or possible points of conflict with other resources on the subject or times, though I cannot imagine a scenario where such an historian as Bawlf, could lead us to believe that the story he told is anything but the truth. It is with great pleasure that I've learned about the amazing Drake through this easy to follow historical guide. I would reccomend this book to anyone with an interest in nautical history, and also to anyone who's interested in historical piracy because in fact, Drake was exactly that: possibly the most successful and notorious pirate of all time.

Meticulous scholarship; exceptional narrative

This history of Drake's voyage around the world in 1577 is a rare delight. It has the narrative force of one of the world's great adventure stories but only because Bawlf clearly and economically provides all of the political and economic context necessary to intrpet the context, the true purpose and the consequences of the voyage. Of the many accounts of Drake's voyage that I've read, this is by far the most comprehensive and enjoyable. The prose is clear, unassuming and well-crafted.It is also, of course, a surprising book. Though the voyage is very well known, many of the well-established events are not. The book is serious scholarship and as compelling as Patrick O'Brian's fiction. The primary thesis of the latter portion of the book, that Drake traveled much further north than is usually assumed, is clearly presented and documented; I hope and expect that this will lead to further scholarship on the issue. Nevertheless, independent of that point, the book remains as one of the clearest and well-written and enjoyable narratives of one of European histories most important voyages.
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