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Sir Francis Drake: British Library Historic Lives Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Sep 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: British Library Publishing Division (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712348603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712348607
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,474,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This is a book that would make Francis Drake proud."

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sir Francis Drake was part myth, part man, an adventurer and explorer and an Elizabethan celebrity. By 21st century standards, and out of his historical context, he was also a pirate and a mercenary. He was both a gentleman and a rogue and at times, depending on the political situation, he was also Queen Elizabeth's gentleman rogue.

He was a confirmed Protestant, a patriotic Englishman, devoutly anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic. Early on he was a privateer in Panama and the Caribbean, later he circumnavigated the globe in the Golden Hind, took part in the English defence against the Armada, became Mayor of Plymouth and a MP, died in Panama on another adventure and was buried at sea.

This book is not a hagiography and it describes the man and his times with all his faults. It is intelligently written as would be expected from a book carrying the imprint of The British Library but it is an overview not a long detailed biography. The book has 155 pages, with many black and white or colour illustrations, often contemporary or from the next generation to Sir Francis Drake. The author is an expert in cartography and exploration and thus many of the illustrations are maps from the British Library's own collection.

This is a good introduction to an English sea-dog.

In the same series there is also Queen Elizabeth I (British Library Historic Lives).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8ca10654) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9092f324) out of 5 stars The definitive historical source on Sir Francis Drake! A Review from a History Major... 30 Nov. 2012
By Anonymous Rogue - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had purchased this book as a source for a paper in English History (which I had recieved an A on). I was suprised at the thorough detail of the book. The professionalism and knowledge given by the author is impeccible, and the book is written without bias, looking at Drake through modern moral standards, or giving into revisionism or speculation. In short this is a great and accurate historical source. Whitfield uses various sources to back up what he is saying and does a brilliant job at making the legend and enigma of Drake into a flesh and bone man. He also does a great job at descriptive details and leaving the reader captivated. Very rare is it for a historical biography to be written this well. The reading of the book is fluid and draws the reader in very well. Whitfield is not only a great historian, but writer as well and a joy to read.

People who I would recommend this book to: Historians, History buffs, people interested in Francis Drake
Rating:10/10 Excellent Book
HASH(0x8caadef4) out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated and concisely written biography of Drake - a must read for those interested in Drake and the time period 14 May 2015
By doesitmatter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is flat-out, an incredible book. Over the past year I've wanted to learn more about Mr.Drake after some soul searching of who I was.
I tried reading a couple of the books that have many reviews and are much longer, but I found them to be overly detailed and "superfluous" so to speak, and in at least one case, just hard to read. I came upon this book at the library and as soon as I opened it, I knew it would be good. It's too bad it only has one review, but this will be the second. Another reminder that just because a book has limited reviews, doesn't mean a thing. If anything, many books have "fluff" praise whether on Amazon, or on the book itself.

This book is lavishly and beautifully illustrated with full color images of antique maps, paintings, and portraits - all fully identified. It is easy to read too (nice thick paper and font choices). Mr.Whitfield concisely and fairly covers the life of Sir Drake in about 150 pages. Detailed, but not overwhelming is how I would describe this excellent book. The provided illustrations of maps / portraits, etc...go a long way in bringing the story of Sir Drake to "life."

Mr.Whitfield is fair in how he treats Drake, giving him credit where due, and also piercing the hyperbole that follows many famous people in the present and that gets added over time. He also admits to not knowing certain things about Drake, rather than resorting to making too many assumptions.

Specifically -- deep inner motivations - answers that I will shed a little light on, but any more than a few words would be largely out of place in an Amazon review. I'll merely state that there is a good reason that Drake followed much the same path as Magellan on his circumnavigation and that certain events unfolded with striking similarity (Mutiny in St.Julian). And there is a very logical reason that it only took ~16 days (14 is used in the book) for Drake to cross the Strait of Magellan vs ~38 days for Magellan. looked a little familiar....on a subconscious level. This reason also explains why Drake was "one of the finest mariners of his time, bold and adventurous." The reason - because he was a mariner / adventurer in numerous recent past lives, mostly unheralded. It also explains his "character flaws" / at times inconsistent behavior / restlessness as noted in the book. Past lives explains many things about our world, but it is not in the 'box of explanations' for most. Know thy self.

After reading this biography, I am very interested in reading Mr.Whitfield's other works. The combination of images and prose shows me that the author sees more of the "big picture" and is able to articulate in '3-D,' not just 2-D like many other works out there. I am looking forward to reading other books in this series as well - British Historical Lives.
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