Saturday, February 23, 2008

A new release of Mattingly's Armada!

Tell everyone! Prepare the hearth! Slaughter the fatted calf! Let all the church bells ring! O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! and yet again wonderful! and after that, out of all whooping!

I sense that you do not share my excitement. Can it be you are unaware of Garrett Mattingly's masterpiece? Have you not surrendered yourself to the warp and weft of his narrative, not wondered at how one man could be both meticulous historian and storyteller born?

Well... dude!... whaddaya waitin' for??

Last night, while writing the previous entry, I noticed that a new hardcover edition of The Armada is scheduled for release just a few days from now. Cool!!! The previous edition of 2005 was a paperback. Aside from this fancy edition of 2002, it seems that there hasn't been a hardcover edition in quite a while. And at only ten bucks, this new one is a steal. So buy one!* Buy ten! You buy me one, I'll buy you one, and we'll both give 'em away to some lucky, lucky reader. And if you've already read your Mattingly, then why not work your way down the following reading list? Believe me, it won't get boring: the more I've read about Philip II, the more fascinatingly inscrutable he becomes.**

  • The Spanish Armada by Martin and Parker: Among other things, their modern research on the Armada gunnery and their character analysis of Philip II are welcome additions to the literature.
  • The Great Enterprise, ed. Stephen Usherwood: An excellent collection of period documents that shed a great deal of light on the Armada.
  • The Voyage of the Armada - the Spanish Story by David Howarth: A very valuable and criminally overlooked addition to the literature. Howarth will give you more insight into the nautical mechanics of the Armada than you ever knew you needed.
  • The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: I was only 64 pages into this one when, on December 26, I got bitten by the cartography bug. I'd read enough, though, to say with certainty that it adds a new and entirely necessary dimension to the Armada story: the experience of the common soldiery and populace on both the Spanish and English sides. It starts out with Miguel Cervantes doing his duty as an Andalusian procurement official for King Philip during the intensive Armada preparations - and getting excommunicated for his troubles!
  • The Appointment of the Duke of Medina Sidonia to the Command of the Spanish Armada, an article by I.A.A. Thomson of the University of Keele in The Historical Journal, XII, 2 (1969), pp. 197-216: This brilliant article deconstructs the usual straw man approach to Medina Sidonia, showing why he was not only the right man, but perhaps the only man, for the job. If you don't have access to JSTOR then beg, borrow, or steal it. NOW!
  • The Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolo Capponi: a densely detailed yet surprisingly engaging account of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, and the preposterously convoluted politics leading up to it.

*I highly recommend the 1959 hardcover version, regularly available from Amazon resellers for a buck or less plus shipping. If you can't afford one, I will send you one. I am serious. I buy copies specifically to give them away.

**I remain hopeful that someday I'll scrut him.

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