Sir Francis Drake by Mr. Harry Kelsey
The Queen`s Pirate

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Synopsis

In this biography, Harry Kelsey seeks to shatter the familiar image of Sir Francis Drake. The Drake of legend was a pious, brave and just seaman who initiated the move to make England a great naval power and whose acts of piracy against his countries enemies earned him a knighthood for patriotism. Kelsey paints a different picture of Drake as an amoral privateer at least as interested in lining his pockets with Spanish booty as in forwarding the political goals of his country, a man who became a captain general of the English navy but never waged traditional warfare with any success. Drawing on much new evidence, Kelsey describes Drake's early life as the son of a poor family in 16th-century England. He explains how Drake dabbled in piracy, gained modest success as a merchant, and then took advantage of the hostility between Spain and England to embark on a series of pirate raids on undefended Spanish ships and ports, preempting Spanish demands for punishment by sharing much of his booty with the Queen and her councillors. Elizabeth I liked Drake because he was a charming rogue, and she made him an integral part of her war plans against Spain and its armada, but she quickly learned not to trust him with an important command: he was unable to handle a large fleet; was suspicious almost to the point of paranoia and had no understanding of personal loyalty. For Drake, the mark of success was to amass great wealth - preferably by taking if from someone else - and the primary purpose of warfare was to afford him the opportunity to accomplish this.
 

About Mr. Harry Kelsey

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Harry Kelsey is the former chief curator of history at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He is also the author of "The Doctrina and Confesionario of Juan Cortes", "Frontier Capitalist: The Life of John Evans", and "Sir Frances Drake: The Queen's Pirate
 
Published August 11, 1998 by Yale University Press. 592 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Poorly educated, crude, profane, and ambitious to amass great wealth by taking it from others, Drake was actually a poor warrior, and Kelsey maintains that he usually performed badly in massed combat actions.

Sep 01 1998 | Read Full Review of Sir Francis Drake: The Queen`...

Kirkus Reviews

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while others have focused heavily on the privileges of citizenship, Kerber posits that it is actually women’s exclusion from the obligations of citizenship that have perpetuated an inherently sexist legal system.

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Publishers Weekly

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But there should be more attention to the big picture, such as painting Spain and Portugal's relationship before following Drake on his ill-fated expedition to Lisbon--whose outcome Kelsey gives away too soon, for the sake of another statistic.

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HistoryNet

Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Priate.

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Sir Francis Drake: The Queen`...

Project MUSE

It can be thoroughly absorbing in its detail of his family background, and offers a fresh perspective on some of the traditional areas of debate, especially the claimed discovery of Cape Horn, the California landfall, progress along the North American coast, and the conflict with Doughty interpre...

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