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Tide of Empires: Volume One

This is the first in an intended four-volume history of the naval campaigns through which western European nations rose to dominate the world. It opens with the Portuguese campaigns of discovery around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean and the Spanish voyages to the 'new world' in search of the riches of the East. Both powers grew wealthy from oceanic trade and were assaulted by pirates and privateers from the coastal fringes of northern Europe. The volume ends with the Dutch taking over trading and financial supremacy - with the English as serious rivals. The author discards the glamorous motives traditionally attributed to naval commanders and explorers, ascribing their incentives rather to the drive for wealth - and the envy of wealth. Stripped of national bias and legend this is a radically new view of naval history told with all the verve and vivid narrative which has established Peter Padfield as the most readable and exciting of naval historians.


‘A staggering story crisply and excitingly told... The book is at its very best on tactics and the construction of the ships themselves, and the descriptions of the battles and great overseas voyages to the Indies.’ - Times Educational Supplement

‘A first rate revision of the most sophisticated and strategic of the western forms of economic rivalry and domination... reconstructing in vivid detail the development of tactics, gunnery, sail and battle line.’ - Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature

‘A survey such as this from the pen of Peter Padfield automatically commands attention, the more so since he writes with the same kind of realistic eye as Gibbon... His descriptions of naval actions combine vivid narrative detail with brilliant analysis of tactics, and he sets both against the background of technical development in gunnery and sailing ship progress.’ - Lloyd’s List

‘As might be expected from Padfield’s proven expertise, the analysis of the development of fighting ships and their weapons... is admirably done. The battle narratives, whether of the great set pieces of Lepanto and the Armada, or of minor actions in distant seas, are equally satisfying.’ - Times Literary Supplement

‘A fascinating book... The story of the voyages of discovery, of conquest and fierce competition between the rivals is told in vivid detail. Mr Padfield has the gift of splendidly graphic writing... the present volume... is likely to give pleasure and interest on an enduring basis.’ - Rear Admiral Gueritz, Eastern Daily Press

‘Here is maritime history brought vividly to life... A book of maritime history of enormous interest, unbiased and altogether excellent reading... absorbing and vivid history, and all who read this first volume will await the following three with impatience.’ - The Nautical Magazine

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