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Elizabeth's Sea Dogs: How England's Mariners Became the Scourge of the Seas Hardcover – 8 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Conway (8 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844861740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844861743
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.7 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 587,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


As a history, Elizabeth s Sea Dogs works well; worthy of a place on a maritime bookshelf. --The Nautilus Telegraph, January issue

a cracking good read --Military History Monthly magazine, April issue

a comprehensive account --Warships International Fleet Review magazine, May issue

will appeal to those with an interest in our maritime history and to those seeking to improve their grasp of the reality of the Elizabethan era --Pennant magazine book review, May 2013 issue

About the Author

Hugh Bicheno is a writer and historian with a specialist interest in the politics and cutting edge of conflict. His books include Gettysburg (2002), Midway (2002), Crescent and Cross: the Battle of Lepanto 1571 (2003), Rebels & Redcoats: the American Revolutionary War (2003), Razor's Edge: the Unofficial History of the Falklands War (2006) and Vendetta: High Art and Low Cunning at the Birth of the Renaissance (2008).

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
In modern parlance, it is said that `one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' Had such an expression been coined in the 16th Century it might so easily have been; `one monarch's naval captain is another monarch's pirate!'

Described as `Corsairs' in this enthralling and deeply researched work by Hugh Bicheno, we find the lives of such famous Elizabethan sailors as Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins and Co were preceded by those who paved the way for the dashing and adventurous exploits which continue to live in fact and legend. And on the subject of legend, I should also point out that many a well-voiced myth about the lives and times in question are laid to rest in this book.

The English Channel is that narrowing stretch of water which lies to the south of the English mainland. On the opposite shores are France and, somewhat further away, Spain. All three nations were empire builders and each had access to riches from their overseas territories - none more so than Spain and her treasure ships. What one overseas territory had, however, another lacked and it was the refusal of King Philip II of Spain to allow free trade with his overseas colonies which led to raids on his heavily laden vessels. Many were laden with gold bullion - a fortune in each treasure ship which was much needed to fund Spain's expensive religious wars. Once the English Corsairs had discovered the routes of the treasure ships - they were never likely to go in search of other commodities such as cloths and spices. Eventually, Philip became so incensed by the antics of the English he launched his famous Armada against them in 1588 and, of course, the rest we think we know...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gruber on 25 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am not a professional historian, so my comments are purely a personal reaction to this book. In a word, I would call it "brilliant".

The period under discussion is very interesting in, and of, itself. It includes the Armada and the various raids carried out against Spain's empire, before, during and after Elizabeth's reign. Covering such swash-buckling individuals as Ralegh, Hawkins, Drake and Frobisher, the book rattles along in a steady progression from the outset of the "Sea Dogs" to their eventual demise (Old Sea Dogs do die...).

I have read numerous books on the Armada, but this is the first one (at least, as far as I have read, to date) that rounds up exactly what happened to each of the ships (as far as is currently known, anyway). The Appendices (which can sometimes be as dry as dust - but not in this case) also include details of the various artillery guns (including the physics behind them) and a full description (with sketches) of all the various types of vessel mentioned in the book.

Most of the mariners mentioned in the book come across as pretty unlovely characters. I have to say that I like the fact that Hugh starts and finishes the book by reminding us that they were men of, and for, their times. We can not really judge them by today's standards. Similarly, they were pretty much choir boys compared to the pirates who were their eventual successors.....

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in any of the following: naval history; exploration; land and/or sea warfare; the Tudor period; the early stages of the English empire; and piracy (even though the Sea Dogs were NOT pirates in the strictest sense).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ludovico Sforza TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is the way all history books should be written, like a bloke you've met at a pub telling you the story over a pint. It's comprehensive, argumentative and quite delicious. I haven't come across as many digs at the `establishment' and other historians since I read a particular book about Hadrian's Wall.

For example "it says much about the demise of once- thriving Tudor scholarship in England that the most recent biography of Sir John Hawkins is a prissy tome whose premise is that he was `Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader', written by Harry Kelsey, an American archivist so mired in the modern obsessions of the American academy that he projects them back to the 16th century." It gets you partisan, gets you interested and gets you going, and to think I only picked it up on spec.

As one would expect covers all the major `sea dogs' and some I suspect you won't have heard of and in some detail. Put's Philip of Spain's problems as well as Elizabeth's in a new light (as least to me) not least of all because the author does not assume that all that's written down is necessarily true. Or that peoples motives are always simple and obvious.

Some 370 pages long the book is liberally endowed with B&W line drawings and reproductions of 16th century maps including those of the Armada engagements completed shortly after the event which the author uses to explain the engagement in a way that almost put's one in the cockpit of an English ship. There are also quite a few, high quality, colour plates. And, the icing on the cake is Appendix B which is an illustrated index of all the ship types mentioned in the book.

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