The power of the sea and man's fragility as he confronts it are terrifyingly portrayed in this rousing, historic round-the-world treasure hunt
In 1740, in the first year of war with Spain, Commodore George Anson set sail with a squadron of six British warships. His secret mission, prowling the world's longest, richest, most far-flung ocean trade route, was to seize the legendary Spanish galleon on her yearly voyage from Acapulco to Manila laden with Peruvian silver, "the prize of all the oceans."It was to be a four-year litany of hardship, disaster, mutiny, and heroism. Only one ship, Centurion, achieved its goal; the others were wrecked, scuttled, or forced back in tatters. Of more than 1900 crewmen, almost 1400 perished of disease or starvation.
Historian Glyn Williams's The Prize of All the Oceans shapes Anson's dramatic voyage into a powerful narrative threaded with incisive analysis and commentary. At its center is a colorful portrait of a commander who hauled ropes alongside his men, tended their sickness, and watched them die by the hundreds--but never wavered in his resolve to capture the prize that would bring him untold wealth and return home triumphant. Anson's voyage would change the course of naval history. Glyn Williams tells the full story for the first time in a book that will rivet historians and armchair survivalists alike.
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Glyn Williams is Professor Emeritus of History at Queen Mary and Westfield College, the University of London, and specializes in the history of exploration. He is the author of The Voyages of Captain Cook, The Great South Sea: English Voyages and Encounters 1570-1750, and Ruling Britannia: A Political History of Britain 1688-1988.From Publishers Weekly:
In 1740, during England's war with Spain, Commodore George Anson set sail for the South Pacific with a squadron of six ships. He was to seize the legendary galleon that carried Spain's annual plunder from South America to Manila, but almost immediately Anson's mission turned to one of survival. The squadron's ships were overcrowded and poorly equipped. The outbreaks of scurvy were among the worst in recorded maritime history. About 74% of the crew died from disease or starvation, and the squadron was so late in sailing that they tried to round Cape Horn at the worst possible time, when the autumn storms were reaching their furious heights. There the squadron was scattered. Two ships, Anson's and a sloop, made it into the Pacific, two turned back, and one was wrecked. Nonetheless, Anson pushed the Centurion on in search of the galleon. That he managed to take the Spanish ship and get her treasure home to great acclaim provides a remarkable ending to his painful, four-year journey. But Williams seems more interested in chronicling events than in telling a great story, and he often bogs down the plot while resolving countless discrepancies in the various survivors' stories. Such painstaking accuracy will please academics, but it will probably keep this book from taking off. (Nov.)
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