Sir Francis Drake and His Daring Deeds (Horribly Famous)
This hilarious book was an instant success with the 14-18 year olds. Upon Michael Coxson's notification, (Site Manager of Buckland Abbey) I bought this book during my last summer holiday in Plymouth. I read the book on Plymouth Hoe and laughed until I cried. It is well written and cleverly illustrated in a cartoon-like manner. The story is of the "horrible histories" genre and thus is not totally accurate. For example, Drake's brothers are wrongly named. The book inclines to the misguided and unsubstantiated Kelsey view that Drake was brought up by the Hawkins family instead of the substantiated Camden and Stowe view that he lived with his parents at Gillingham Reach, Kent, until he was apprenticed to the owner of a coastal hoy. Its strengths include a detailed and sound analysis of the reasons for differing views on Drake both past and present. It debates Drake's movements in Oregon and California. Various aspects of Drake's careers are presented in newspaper format. Drake's personal points of view are superbly presented through his secret log book which is typically Drake, untidy handwriting, witty comments, sketches, doodles and blots. The log book makes you laugh, think and understand. Andrew Donkin is to be congratulated upon his research into Drake's character. He has taken the trouble to research and understand Drake the man that is dear to my heart. This complex human being behind the public mask has only been understood by three other authors: Julian Corbett, John Sugden and Michael Turner. Donkin writes in the modern vernacular; for instance, Elizabeth Sydenham is recorded as top posh totty. Upon closing the book, you derive a greater understanding of Drake and his era than you would ever with from the tugid drivel churned out by the so-called serious historians such as Kelsey and aptly Coote. You have the bonus of a good laugh!