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The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The Spanish Armada Paperback – 3 Nov 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; Export / Airport ed edition (3 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385604521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385604529
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,426,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The path that led me to become an author was a pretty rambling one. Along the highways, byways and frequent cul de sacs of a very chequered career, I've been a plasterer's mate, an ice-cream salesman, a holiday camp redcoat, an art gallery director, and simultaneously an art critic and a rugby commentator - now there's a combination you don't see every day. I've also been the editor of the drinker's bible, The Good Beer Guide, and the owner of the highest pub in Britain, and I've travelled round the world twice, edited an assortment of obscure magazines, made a couple of television films, been a radio broadcaster in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and written for newspapers around the world.

However, the world's longest adolescence finally had to come to an end one day and since then I've been pretty much a full-time author with around 50 published books to my name so far. Under my own name I write narrative non-fiction - popular history, though the sales figures suggest it's not quite as popular as I'd like it to be. I'm not a member of what you might call "the David Starkey School" of history, I'm less interested in kings, queens, prime ministers and generals than I am in what happens to ordinary people caught up in great events. I don't like "winner's history" either; I want to know the view from all sides of a conflict or issue and I'm as interested - and sometimes more interested - in the aftermath of great events than I am in the events themselves. Some of the best stuff I've written (in my opinion at least) really catches fire at the point where most other historians leave off, and that's as true, I think, of my book about the Spanish Armada "The Confident Hope of a Miracle", "The Dreadful Judgement" about the Great Fire of London, and The Custom of the Sea, as it is of "The Unknown Soldier", my book about the Unknowns buried in Westminster Abbey and at national shrines in Paris, Washington and all over the world.

My day-job is as a ghostwriter: a writer of other people's books for them. Clients have included a treasure diver, a kidnap negotiator, an explorer, a spy, a long-distance walker, a submariner, an England football coach, a cricketing legend, a controversial historian, an undercover investigator, an IRA informer, several travellers and adventurers, two fast-jet pilots and half a dozen SAS men. At various times I've also written screenplays, thrillers, short stories, a serious novel, a playscript for a musical, travel journalism, and book reviews. The one thing missing from my portfolio is poetry and believe me, there's a very good reason for that...

If you can still cope with yet more of me boasting about myself, my website is: http://www.neilhanson.co.uk

and my facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Neil-Hanson/456508287757319

and if you're still not sated, you can find the talk I gave about my book The Unknown Soldier at the Pritzker Military Library, Chicago at
http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/Home/Neil-Hanson.aspx

Product Description

Review

" Hanson's precise and sparkling narrative captures the cataclysmic urgency of political and religious conflict in early modern Europe. He is obviously a historian with a winning hand." - "The Houston Chronicle" " An exciting narrative. . . . Never before has actual battle been described in such detail and rarely with such flair." - "Los Angeles Times Book Review" " Excellent. . . . Hanson does a good job of conveying the excitement and danger of the individual sea battles." " - Chicago Sun-Times "" Brilliant. . . . Hanson is a meticulous historian and a compelling storyteller. This is one of those rare works of popular history that, like Alan Morehead's "The White Nile" or Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August," makes a half-remembered story from school seem both real and relevant." - "Newsday"

Book Description

The real story of the Spanish Armada --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Basileus on 26 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
A parallel between the Spanish Armada in 1588 and D-Day in 1944 is obvious: an amphibious invasion plan during an ideological war between world powers. The difference is that the former turned out to be a dramatic debacle for the attackers. "Confident Hope" is the gripping tale and detailed historical account of this disastrous undertaking against the background of European politics, religious strife and personal ambitions.

Written as a history book, "Confident Hope" often reads as a novel with attractive characters and villains, exciting battle scenes, unexpected events and tragic personal adventures. In my opinion, the book builds up slowly, but once the Armada has left the Spanish harbours, the story picks up pace and keeps you mesmerised until the last page.

Although we are taught at school that it was mainly the storm on the North Sea that defeated the Armada, "Confident Hope" tells the story of all factors leading to the outcome and reveals some astonishing and shocking facts. Queen Elizabeth's refusal to finance the defence of coastal cities, the fate of Spanish soldiers washed ashore in Ireland and the fate of English sailors returning to their harbours after defeating the Armada made me shake my head in disbelief.

From a Dutch perspective, unlike our official history books the contribution of the Dutch in defeating the Armada is according to "Confident Hope" marginal. Yet, I highly recommend this book to every one interested in Europe's early modern history, Holland's "Gouden Eeuw" and the "Tachtigjarige Oorlog".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Feb 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Spanish attempt to conquer England in 1588 is not short of chroniclers and Hanson does not claim even to have conducted original research where most of the campaign is concerned, his emphasis having been on the aftermath. Nevertheless, he has illuminated apects that may not have received sufficient attention before, or not in publications for the general reader, at least. A recurrent theme is the refusal by Elizabeth I to spend money in her own defence, expecting the English army to be financed by cities, counties and prominent individuals, and refusing to release adequate supplies of gunpowder to the fleet until far too late. (Hanson contends, persuasively, that only the capture of Spanish supplies of powder enabled the English to defeat the fleet of Philip II.) On the other hand, Hanson also puts to the sword another common myth about 1588, namely that the Spanish were never defeated by the English, but fell victims to the elements. As he points out, ships that could round the South American or South African capes ought to have had no trouble circumnavigating the British Isles. Their problems arose because of the gaping holes in their hulls blasted by English gunnery and as a result of the fact that most of Medina Sidonia's ships severed their anchors in their panic to escape English fireships.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tommo on 5 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
What an enjoyable read; history brought to life. This book is a pleasure - excellent research, great storytelling interwoven with it. Have gained crucial insights into the thinking and behaviours of all parties involved in the planning and action of the Armada. Highly recommended; one of the best books I have read for a while.
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By A Customer on 11 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
If you would like to be transported back to the time of the Spanish Armada this is the book for you. It has a perfect blend of historical fact and "storytelling" which keeps you turning the pages.
The picture it paints of life at the time covers both the political situation and the personalities of the main movers in the story. It will wet your appetite to know more about the background to our history and appeals to a broad spectrum of readers. Great read
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arquebusier1572 on 20 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author has written a very readable history of the Armada, but when he includes "the real history" in his title, we're entitled to expect that this book has something new that the numerous previous books on the subject haven't had. And there isn't anything new. Garrett Mattingley's Defeat of the Spanish Armada, or Parker and Martin's Spanish Armada are the real pathbreaking books on the subject, and there's nothing here on the Armada that wasn't in them. And Mattingley's book was as well written. Since it's out of print, this is a good substitute, but the title is misleading.
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