No one would write a book about the Armada quite like this again - during the quadcentenial (1988), the interest seemed to focus on the ships, armaments and tactics. Mattingley is weak on these, and if that is your prime interest, look to Geoffrey Parkers book published in 1988. However, for narrative force, characterization and political background, Mattingley has no equals. For me, his account of the Armada, published over 40 years ago , is still the best by far. The narrative swings from Low Counries, to Madrid, to Cadiz, to Paris, finally to the Channel and Calais, then back to France. Mattingley shows that the defeat of the Armada ensured the survival of the Reformation and (not least) the independent survival of England, France and the Netherlands. Yet he is even handed at every stage, indeed Medina-Sidonia (the Armada's commander) is one of the heroes. Other heroes are Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Parma and Henri III of France. Well, maybe anti-hero for Henri III, Henri of Navarre (Henri IV to come) is the true French hero. Indeed, for me, the nastiest figures in the book are not Spanish at all. One is Henri of Guise, Philip's co-conspirator in France, and Sir Francis Drake, who comes across as both paranoid and greedy. Read and be transfixed by its narrative sweep - each chapter is like a dramatic news bulletin adding to the powerful impact of the unfolding story.