Armada: The Story of Thomas Hobbs,
England 1587-1588 (My Story)
This book tells the story of the Armada's defeat from the eyes of a ship's boy. Thomas Hobbs is taken to sea by uncle Rufus, to escape the family poverty, which is graphically described within the wider Elizabethan social context. This book stresses the hardships for everyone, rather than the glamour of life in the Elizabethan navy. It is written in the first person, so it delves more deeply into the main characters' thoughts. Thomas is portrayed as a typical Elizabethan teenager: one minute moody and introspective and the next, humorous and lively. His affectionate relationship with his mother and his difficult relationship with his father, will strike a chord with many teenagers, as will Thomas's instant rapport with the young at heart Rufus. Uncle Rufus had sailed with Drake on every campaign since Nombre de Dios. Hence, we intimately see Drake through the eyes of Rufus, accentuated by Thomas's contributions. Drake is portrayed as warm-hearted, friendly and a very human. We see his genius as a commander, but also his faults. The average thirteen year old boy will certainly empathise with a man who cannot keep his mop of curly hair reasonably tidy. Once again, an author seems to be making the point that Drake was kind, funny, friendly and cared about his crews. This is put on par with his status as a great sailor.
The account of the Armada campaign is gripping reading, since Thomas also served aboard the Elizabeth Bonadventure. There is an equally well written account of the Cádiz expedition. I particularly liked this because most books of this genre, usually concentrate on the circumnavigation or the armada campaign. Again, the characterisation is excellent. Much of the humour is provided by uncle Rufus - a bawdy sailor with thoughtful streak and Drake's preacher secretary Philip Nichols, a 16th century Victor Meldrew type character.