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The Confident Hope of a Miracle is a gripping account of the defeat of the Spanish Armada—the defining international event of the Elizabethan age. In 1588, determined to reclaim England for the Catholic Church, King Philip II of Spain launched a fleet of huge castle-crowned galleons that stretched for miles across the ocean. A battle-hardened Spanish Army waited in Holland, ready to crush England’s barely trained conscripts, many armed only with scythes, stakes or longbows. All that stood between Spain and victory was the English Navy. But English ships, tactics, weapons and crews were much superior to those of the Armada, and the pious and ascetic Philip’s “confident hope of a miracle” to give him victory was not fulfilled.
The story of the Spanish Armada is one of the great epics, with a cast of characters as rich and varied as any in history, with results that shaped Europe for centuries to come. Neil Hanson, the acclaimed author of The Great Fire of London and The Custom of the Sea, brings the story to vivid life, tracing the origins of the conflict from the Old World to the New, delineating the Armada campaign in rousing prose, and illuminating the lives of kings and popes, spymasters and assassins, military commanders and common sailors, and the ordinary men and women caught up in this great event when the fate of nations hung in the balance. Hanson also depicts the terrible fate that befell the seamen of both sides long after the decisive battles were over, and he takes a fresh, hard look at Elizabeth I, shaking the pedestal of “England’s greatest ever monarch.”
The Confident Hope of a Miracle is authentic and original history written with the pace and drama of a novel.
“Hanson writes with sweep, confidence and great verve. He re-creates the feel and sounds of 16th century battle . . . The Confident Hope of a Miracle is a driving narrative, filled with keen observation and the occasional debunking.” —Evan Thomas, Washington Post Book World
“Hanson tells the story well, and with a good eye for the telling quotation . . . Naval history . . . is where the book carves out its special place. Hanson prides himself justly, on following the seamen through all the twists and turns. He even follows them ashore afterward, spending much time and research on what happened to them when they washing up in the British Isles. . . The Confident Hope of a Miracle has its place on the shelf of well-written books on the Spanish Armada, one of those subjects that bookstores are nevel lacking in.” —Edward Beasley, The San Diego Union
“Intelligent, persuasive . . . a triumph of diligent research that will undoubtedly be of immense appeal to dedicated students of military history.” —Richard Zimler, San Francisco Chronicle
“Hanson does a good job of conveying the excitement and danger of the individual sea battles, though readers may be forgiven if they find them blending dizzyingly into each other. Happily, he enlives the narrative with captivating details.” —Roger Miller, Orlando Sentinel
“Brilliant . . . This is one of those rare works of popular history that, like Alan Morehead's The While Nile or Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, makes a half-remembered story from school seem real and relevant.” —Josh Ozersky, Newsday
“A splendid volume . . . Hanson is superlative in doing justice to the social complexities of the time and the suffering of the many who fought on both sides.” —Publishers Weekly
“Brilliant . . . This outstanding work covers a true turning point in world history.” —Booklist
“A superb, myth-shattering portrait of an epochal event . . . Hanson's account of the great naval battle off the southern coast of England will thrill fans of C.S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Excellent . . . Hanson does a good job of conveying the excitement and danger of the individual sea battles.” —Roger Miller, Chicago Sun-Times
“Superb. . . Not only does the author convincingly nail Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake as egregious villains but he does so in glowing historical prose.” —Best Reads of the Year, The Independent on Sunday
“An exceptionally vivid account. . . Hanson is essentially a narrative historian with all the talents required of that genre: a gimlet eye for interesting detail, an ability to convey atmosphere and a storyteller's instinct for pace. He has written a marvellous book.” —Saul David, Daily Telegraph
“Hanson's narrative is brilliant—melding deep research and page-turning writing. When he deals with the disaster of the Armada's homeward passage, battling monstrous seas and shipwreck, he reaches dramatic heights that make him the equal of Parkman or Prescott.” —Frank McLynn, Sunday Express
“Impressive in its large-scale narrative, the book also re-creates in brilliant detail the hellish lives of the ordinary seamen, Spanish and English, who were caught up in the religious and dynasty quarrels of their rulers.” —Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times