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Publisher's Summary

In this grand and thrilling narrative, the acclaimed biographer of Magellan, Columbus, and Marco Polo brings alive the singular life and adventures of Sir Francis Drake, the pirate/explorer/admiral whose mastery of the seas during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I changed the course of history

“Bergreen masterly portrays...the swashbuckling life and times of the explorer who achieved what Magellan could not - and made England’s fortune in the process.” (Kirkus)

Before he was secretly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth to circumnavigate the globe, or was called upon to save England from the Spanish Armada, Francis Drake was perhaps the most wanted - and successful - pirate ever to sail. Nicknamed "El Draque" by the Spaniards who placed a bounty on his head, the notorious red-haired, hot-tempered Drake pillaged galleons laden with New World gold and silver, stealing a vast fortune for his queen - and himself. For Elizabeth, Drake made the impossible real, serving as a crucial and brilliantly adaptable instrument of her ambitions to transform England from a third-rate island kingdom into a global imperial power.

In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth's covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake's audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival. 

The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Framed around Drake’s key voyages as a window into this crucial moment in British history, In Search of a Kingdom is a rousing adventure narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.  

©2021 Laurence Bergreen (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about In Search of a Kingdom

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Better than the text

This history relies on primary sources. Most of the text is quoted from journals of the actual voyages and contemporary accounts. There are several challenges the reader overcomes elegantly. First he reads the Elizabethan text very well, giving a true sense of drama which might not normally be available in the written form. Second you are not bogged down with quotation marks which can destroy the written flow. In fact this spoken word is better than the written word, making the history much more enjoyable and intense. Finally the contemporary sources are truly accurate, not interpreted. The descriptions of bad weather and interactions with native peoples are gripping once you are accustomed to the historic grammar as read by a master like Michael Page.

80 people found this helpful

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Definitely Worth It

I read the book "The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake" a couple years ago and worried that getting another book about it might just rehash all of the same story, but this book didn't. Both books definitely cover different parts of the same story which was good. Laurence Bergreen had also written Over the Edge of the World about Magellan's voyage which I had liked. This book talks more about the events leading up to the Drake voyage and post voyage history than 'The Secret Voyage' book did. I definitely recommend both books though if you're a fan of history. If you enjoy Age of Discovery/First Contact books you'll enjoy this story.

54 people found this helpful

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In Search of a Kingdom

*In Search of a Kingdom* is a great introduction, and adventure story, of a defining figure of the 16th century often told only in pieces in other books. There are so many English explorers and pirates - Thomas Cavendish, Walter Raleigh, William Dampier - it's easy to become confused, but Drake was the first to become famous, he would inspire and influence all one who came after. He is probably most famous as the first English captain to sail around the world and return alive - Ferdinand Magellan was killed on his journey and his crew returned barely alive, whereas Drake came home with a healthy crew and ship in polished condition. He was also something of a colorful personality and natural leader who even his enemies admired; he sometimes captured a ship and set the captives free with a bit of the loot as a gift; he usually dined on ship with musicians serenading his meal. Still, despite being so privileged to have seen the world, it's geography, native cultures, flora and fauna, he returned home largely unchanged as a person. His influence as such is a secondary consequence of his actions - contrast with William Dampier a century later, whose writings and outlook changed the way the world sees.

Bergreen's theme, as the sub-title, is that Drake was the beginning of the British Empire. This idea is not original, nor dwelled upon, but it is valid. England under Elizabeth was an indebted secondary kingdom without much of a navy in a world dominated by wealthy and powerful Spain. But the Spanish Empire had an Achilles heel - it needed to ship treasure, which made it vulnerable to attack. Drake was not the first of Elizabeth's "Sea Dogs" (privateers) but was the most successful, bringing home enough loot to pay off England's debt and more besides. This wild success spawned more piracy, and solidified the idea that England could be a maritime power with colonies of its own. It's an old theme that when glorified as the Victorians did is tone deaf these days, but important to understand the context of how colonialism began - inter-state competition over global resources and culture. Bergreen does not glorify, maybe to a fault one has to bring a sense of awe and wonder, but he is a reliable narrator of events.

P.s. thank you Harper for including a PDF with maps and pictures.

37 people found this helpful

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An exciting history lesson

A fantastic book for the maritime and pirate enthusiast. This, along with Empire of the Blue and The Republic of Pirates, offers a look into the real lives of pirates of yore.

Listening at 1.10x speed had a better flow for me.

23 people found this helpful

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Fascinating!

Betgreen out did himself with his authoritative account of Francis Drake and Elizabeth I, plus all the intricacies of Elizabethan England. A good listen and great performance by Michael Page. The account of Drake’s voyages, defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the beginning of the English Empire was fascinating.

15 people found this helpful

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READS LIKE A NOVEL

Web
Lloyd written and most entertaining. Great narration. Really brings to life a fascinating Era.



8 people found this helpful

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What one never knew

This book explains a great of things that never made sense in standard histories, at least up to now. It is very clearly written and well read. My one bit of feedback it the refer

7 people found this helpful

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Very informative

I thought the book was well researched, and the narration was good. I do think a bit of additional editing would have been in order, since the author had a tendency to repeat ideas (Drake 's "second rich wife" was referred to the same way too many times etc.). This is a small complaint, however.

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Very fun and educational listen!

Loved this book and never appreciated how big a role Drake played in shaping English and Western European History. Very fun listen!

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Interesting piece of history

This is a very interesting book for all of you history buffs out there. Lots and lots of information describing Drake very impressively in the Elizabethan era, including his succession of Magellan, the battles against the Spanish armada, and the dealings with his own queen and fellow voyagers, etc. The narrator does a great job of keeping the information flowing, and relating one episode of this incredible pirate mariner's life to another, and making it all make sense. It's extremely long, but it does make sense chronologically, and expertly tracks Drake's primary voyage from beginning to end, and covers every other tiny detail in between. I recommend this.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-20-21

Fascinating stuff

I did enjoy this very much, worth hearing if you are interested in drake.