100 books like The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

By Garrett Mattingly,

Here are 100 books that The Defeat of the Spanish Armada fans have personally recommended if you like The Defeat of the Spanish Armada. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn

D'Arcy Jenish Author Of Epic Wanderer: David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West

From my list on the exploraton of the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist, the author of 10 works of popular history, and, latterly, a playwright. For nearly 25 years, I have earned a living on the strength of my own writing. I have written one full-length play that was produced at an outdoor summer theatre in July 2023, and I have written three short plays for the Port Hope, Ontario Arts Festival. I now live in Peterborough, Ontario, about 90 miles northeast of Toronto, but have had a lifelong interest in the history of western North America by dint of having grown up in southeastern Saskatchewan and having worked as a journalist in Alberta in the early 1980s.  

D'Arcy's book list on the exploraton of the West

D'Arcy Jenish Why did D'Arcy love this book?

I loved this book enough to read it twice. In fact, felt compelled to read it twice because of Connell’s amazing portrayal of Custer and dozens of other figures, both American and Native American, both well-known and obscure.

The battle of the Little Bighorn lasted only a few hours but had an amazing impact, and Connell tells the story with remarkable originality.     

By Evan S. Connell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Son of the Morning Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a scorching June Sunday in 1876, thousands of Indian warriors - Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho - converged on a grassy ridge above the valley of Montana's Little Bighorn River. On the ridge five companies of United States cavalry - 262 soldiers, comprising officers and troopers - fought desperately but hopelessly. When the guns fell silent, no soldier - including their commanding officer, Lt Col. George Armstrong Custer - had survived. Custer's Last Stand is among the most enduring events in American history - 130 years after the fact, books continue to be written and people continue to argue…

Book cover of The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation under Shaka and its fall in the Zulu War of 1879

James Oliver Gump Author Of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

From my list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor emeritus of history at the University of San Diego, and taught courses in African and South African history for over three decades. I have also written a number articles placing African topics in comparative perspective, including “A Spirit of Resistance:  Xhosa, Maori, and Sioux Responses to Western Dominance, 1840-1920” and “Unveiling the Third Force: Toward Transitional Justice in the USA and South Africa, 1973-1994,” as well as three books: The Formation of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa and two editions of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

James' book list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom

James Oliver Gump Why did James love this book?

Morris’s history of the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom remains a classic. Trained as a journalist, Morris presents a vivid, lively, and compelling narrative, tracing the rise of Shaka’s Zulu kingdom, the outbreak of war in 1879, and the tragic aftermath of civil war and national disintegration. Although more recent scholarship casts doubt on some of Morris’s assertions, his book remains the starting point for understanding the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

By Donald R. Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Washing of the Spears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1879, armed only with their spears, their rawhide shields, and their incredible courage, the Zulus challenged the might of Victorian England and, initially, inflicted on the British the worst defeat a modern army has ever suffered at the hands of men without guns. This definitive account of the rise of the Zulu nation under the great ruler Shaka and its fall under Cetshwayo has been acclaimed for its scholarship, its monumental range, and its spellbinding readability. The story is studded with tales of drama and heroism: the Battle of Isandhlwana, where the Zulu army wiped out the major British…

Book cover of Culloden

Stephen Brumwell Author Of White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America

From my list on military disasters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance writer specialising in history, and I’ve picked these works of narrative non-fiction because they stand out among many others that helped to inspire my enduring interest in the past. I first read them decades ago, either as a teenager still at school, or in my twenties, while working as a newspaper reporter. Ultimately, they shaped my decision to study history at university as a mature student, and then to try writing books myself. Originally published between 1953 and 1985, all five of the books that I’ve chosen are still available in paperback editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and with good reason: they combine credible research with powerful story-telling – attributes that I’ve tried hard to emulate through my own writing.

Stephen's book list on military disasters

Stephen Brumwell Why did Stephen love this book?

Before becoming a journalist and author, Prebble served in the ranks of the British Army’s Royal Artillery throughout WW2. This experience gave him sympathy for the ordinary soldier that runs through much of his work, and especially this account of the lop-sided and bloody battle that ended the Jacobite rebellion of 1746. In Culloden, Prebble draws upon eyewitness testimony to reconstruct the brutal reality behind the romantic legends spun around the ‘Young Pretender’ Bonnie Prince Charlie, and chronicles the harsh consequences for the men – many of them Scottish Highlanders - he led into rebellion against King George II. In restrained but evocative prose, Prebble tells the grim story with balance and compassion. Culloden inspired an innovative docudrama by Peter Watkins, while Prebble himself co-wrote the screenplay of the film Zulu.

By John Prebble,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Culloden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of ordinary men and women involved in the Rebellion, who were described on the gaol registers and regimental rosters of the time as 'Common Men'. There is little in this book about Bonnie Prince Charlie and other principals of the last Jacobite Rising of 1745. Culloden recalls them by name and action, presenting the battle as it was for them, describing their life as fugitives in the glens or as prisoners in the gaols and hulks, their transportation to the Virginias or their deaths on the gallows at Kennington Common. The book begins in the rain…

Book cover of The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade

Gary Clayton Anderson Author Of Massacre in Minnesota: The Dakota War of 1862, the Most Violent Ethnic Conflict in American History

From my list on stories so engaging you loose track of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the Northern Plains, visiting Indian Reservations where my mother was a social worker. The poverty, hopelessness, and general lack of medical care and schooling made a profound impact on me. It led me to Graduate School and the study of American Indians. Of my twelve books, two have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and several others have won minor prizes. As a historian, I realize that we can turn things around. We can strive to better understand the past, and prepare our children and grandchildren for the future. But this will never happen by banning books. We must face the brave, new world that is upon us.

Gary's book list on stories so engaging you loose track of time

Gary Clayton Anderson Why did Gary love this book?

No book pulls you in like this one.

It starts with a “kinship” analysis of the British Army at mid-century, 1850. Officers purchased their ranks and most were of the aristocracy. When the Crimean War broke out, two cavalry (Light and Heavy) brigades went into action.

The commander of both brigades despised the commander of the Light Brigade—they were relatives who did not speak to each other. Thus, a fatal written order was misconstrued and the Light Brigade charged into a valley surrounded by Russian artillery.

It was a slaughter to some extent, but the officer in command led the assault, never looking back to see if his troops were following. Thus, a few of the cavalrymen actually reached the Russian emplacements at the end of the valley—and then retreated. An absolutely incredible story!

Readers will not put this book down!

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Reason Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This history is a war story of astonishing courage and honor, of stupidity, of blood, death, agony -- and waste.

Nothing in British campaign history has ever equaled the tragic farce that was the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854. In this fascinating study, Cecil Woodham-Smith shows that responsibility for the fatal mismanagement of the affair rested with the Earls of Cardigan and Lucan, brothers-in-law and sworn enemies for more than thirty years.

In revealing the combination of pride and obstinacy that was to prove so fatal, Woodham-Smith gives us…

Book cover of The Armada

Kevin J. Glynn Author Of Voyage of Reprisal

From my list on epic sea voyages filled with drama and conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been a fan of history. As a journalist by education and an investigator by trade, I love to carefully research my settings and weave original fictional plots through actual history in a seamless manner that both entertains and informs the reader. I also appreciate the need for compelling characters, page-turning plots, conflict, and tension to keep readers engaged. I have a long-term fascination with piracy, privateering, and exploration during the early age of sail. I am also attracted to Elizabethan England and the Renaissance period with its ideological struggles. I really love a good sea story, and who doesn’t? Enjoy my reading list!   

Kevin's book list on epic sea voyages filled with drama and conflict

Kevin J. Glynn Why did Kevin love this book?

This is a comprehensive and scholarly non-fiction book providing a chronological history of the geopolitical and military events leading up to the 1588 Battle of the Spanish Armada while providing an exhaustive but crisp narrative of the battle itself and its aftermath. Like most people, I had long heard about the Spanish Armada but had failed to grasp the scope and scale of that tragic enterprise, nor the complex diplomacy, espionage and politics that surrounded that climatic encounter between Elizabethan England and Imperial Spain. This book helped me develop a backdrop for my featured novel within the Elizabethan World in the years leading up to this momentous naval clash.

By Garrett Mattingly,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Armada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In August of 1588, a Spanish fleet of 130 ships departed from La Coruña under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia. Its purpose was to rendezvous with the Spanish army at the Dutch port of Sluys. At this point, the fleet was to act as a screen while the Spanish army was shuttled across the English Channel in barges. Upon landing, the Spanish invasion force - the finest professional army in the world led by the finest military commander in Europe - would march to London, seize the crown from Elizabeth, avenge the execution of her Catholic Majesty…

Book cover of The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power

Zita Eva Rohr Author Of Yolande of Aragon (1381-1442) Family and Power: The Reverse of the Tapestry

From my list on premodern women of power and influence.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I was forever drawing pictures of princesses in elaborate medieval and early modern dress. I devoured history books—especially those containing artworks that helped me visualize the people whose names rang out from their pages. Inexplicably, I was passionate about France and French language and culture from my primary school years. Then, in my early twenties, I stumbled onto Umberto Eco’s, The Name of the Rose, which appeared in English translation around 1983. History has been, and remains, my passion (as do whodunits). I have been passionately obsessed with in my research for over two decades—uncovering the truth that lies beneath the spin and the ashes.  

Zita's book list on premodern women of power and influence

Zita Eva Rohr Why did Zita love this book?

Carole Levin’s magisterial work has now appeared in its second edition, a testament to its importance. Carole explores the myriad ways the unmarried, childless Elizabeth represented herself and the ways members of her court, foreign ambassadors, and subjects represented and responded to her as a public figure. Like her recently deceased successor, Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Tudor understood that she had to be seen to be believed. She fashioned herself into both the Virgin Queen and the mother of her people. Carole interrogates the gender constructions, role expectations, and beliefs about sexuality that influenced her public persona and the way she was perceived as a female Protestant ruler and points us to paths along which can travel to investigate other female monarchs regardless of time period and on a global scale.

By Carole Levin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Heart and Stomach of a King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her famous speech to rouse the English troops staking out Tilbury at the mouth of the Thames during the Spanish Armada's campaign, Queen Elizabeth I is said to have proclaimed, "I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king." Whether or not the transcription is accurate, the persistent attribution of this provocative statement to England's most studied and celebrated queen illustrates some of the contradictions and cultural anxieties that dominated the collective consciousness of England during a reign that lasted from 1558 until 1603.
In The Heart…

Book cover of Silver Shoals: The Five Fish That Made Britain

Amelia Dalton Author Of Pages from My Passport

From my list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ‘fell’ into being at sea by chance, through my father’s insistence I join him on a Scottish fishing boat for a week. I discovered I adored exploring unknown islands and lonely beaches, discovering wildlife and resilient small communities. In the 1990’s a female working amongst fishermen and commercial shipping was unknown, it was a wholly male, chauvinistic world. Using these skills I found a job being paid to explore – a dream job, pioneering but frequently lonely and dangerous. It resulted in my expanding the range and world of small expedition ships into areas with no infrastructure, unexplored and uncharted, lonely, empty coasts from the Arctic to Singapore. 

Amelia's book list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries

Amelia Dalton Why did Amelia love this book?

This is one of the most eye-opening and fascinating books I have read.

Having spent much of my life amongst the islands and coastal communities of the British Isles I was intrigued learn more about the fish and I did learn so much. We all know the fishing industry has shaped these islands, but the author delves deeper into what has created and influenced the many varied communities of coastal Britain, as well as illustrating the development of our many styles of fishing vessels.

It is a colourful and enlightening account.

By Charles Rangeley-Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silver Shoals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On these rain-swept islands in the North Atlantic man and fish go back a long way. Fish are woven through the fabric of the country's history: we depend on them - for food, for livelihood and for fun - and now their fate depends on us in a relationship which has become more complex, passionate and precarious in the sophisticated 21st Century.

In Silver Shoals Charles Rangeley-Wilson travels north, south, east and west through the British Isles tracing the histories, living and past, of our most iconic fish - cod, carp, eels, salmon and herring - and of the fishermen…

Book cover of The Tutor

Jessica Barksdale Inclan Author Of The Play's the Thing

From my list on to help you love William Shakespeare even more.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I taught Shakespeare’s plays all my teaching career, I stayed in my lanes: Hamlet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear. As a poetry teacher, I used his sonnets as examples of metaphor and form, but never did I consider myself an expert. However, when the idea for my novel popped into my head, I realized I had some serious reading to do. Not only did I study the facts, I delved into the fiction. While some of these books came out during my writing and others after, I didn’t lose my interest, picking up whatever new Shakespeare book appeared. These are some of my favorites.

Jessica's book list on to help you love William Shakespeare even more

Jessica Barksdale Inclan Why did Jessica love this book?

With this piece of historical fiction, we are back to “Who is Shakespeare,” and did he write all those plays? We are asked to consider parts of Shakespeare’s life where there is no historical record at all. In this novel, he did pen his plays and poems, but he had a lot of help from a smart, learned woman. Yes, another great woman behind the man story. And yet, we are allowed into not only Will’s and Katherine’s collaborative writing process but into their love story. Thus we end this list as we started with Shakespeare in love.

By Andrea Chapin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tutor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold and captivating novel about love, passion, and ambition that imagines the muse of William Shakespeare and the tumultuous year they spend together. 

The year is 1590, and Queen Elizabeth’s Spanish Armada victory has done nothing to quell her brutal persecution of the English Catholics. Katharine de L’Isle is living at Lufanwal Hall, the manor of her uncle, Sir Edward. Taught by her cherished uncle to read when a child, Katharine is now a thirty-one-year-old widow. She has resigned herself to a life of reading and keeping company with her cousins and their children. But all that changes when…

Book cover of Buying a Home in Spain: A Survival Handbook

Victoria Twead Author Of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

From my list on moving to Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Victoria Twead is the New York Times bestselling author of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools and the subsequent six books in the Old Fools series. After living in a remote mountain village in Spain for eleven years, and owning probably the most dangerous cockerel in Europe, Victoria and Joe retired to Australia. Another joyous life-chapter has begun.

Victoria's book list on moving to Spain

Victoria Twead Why did Victoria love this book?

If you are moving to Spain, you’ll appreciate David Hampshire’s guides for deciding which region might suit you, how to choose a home and settling into your new way of life. Hampshire includes vital advice like making a Spanish will, driving and finance. He even provides checklists of things to do before the move, and after arrival. We’d have appreciated advice on what to do if one's removal van knocks over the village fountain, or how to stop our cockerel attacking visitors, but I guess we were just unlucky.

By David Hampshire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buying a Home in Spain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in an entertaining style with a touch of humour, Buying a Home in Spain covers everything a prospective buyer could wish to know including buying for investment, the best places to live, finding your dream home, money matters, the purchase procedure, moving house, taxation, insurance, letting and much, much more. It is packed with vital information and insider tips to help readers avoid disasters that can turn their dream home into a nightmare. Buying a Home in Spain is essential reading for anyone planning to buy a home in Spain and is designed to guide readers through the property…

Book cover of We've Gone to Spain

Alan Cuthbertson Author Of Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart

From my list on emigrating to Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I suffered very badly from asthma, and consequently, I missed a lot of schooling. When I left school at 15 I had no qualifications and could hardly read or write. I had a lot of catching up to do. I was married at the age of 19 and in partnership with my wife Heather, we started the family business. After retiring, I now live in a small Andalusian villageI in the south of Spain. It was here where I began my writing career. At first it was just contributing to local magazines and newspapers, then I wrote my first book, Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart.

Alan's book list on emigrating to Spain

Alan Cuthbertson Why did Alan love this book?

I bought this book when we first decided to move. It's jam-packed with advice and tips for anybody thinking of moving to Spain. From the kind of property available, to the cost of living, right down to the small details like, the postal service and internet availability. This book is great for those traveling through Spain looking for somewhere to put down their roots.

By Tom Provan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We've Gone to Spain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

REVIEWS: 'Buy it, absorb it and be sure to make your move an enjoyable one.' A PLACE IN THE SUN 'Reading it is like listening to a friend whose advice and ideas you trust and who has also experienced making the move.' SPANISH MAGAZINE '...probably wins the prize for plain- speaking. The author upped sticks for the Costa del Sol after a long and successful career in marketing and PR, but writes with an honesty and directness not always evident in the world of mail shots and spin...It is difficult not to be enthused by his book, again because of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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