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Williams, Glyn. The prize of all the oceans; Commodore Anson's daring voyage and triumphant capture of the Spanish treasure galleon.

Penguin. 264p. maps. notes. index. c1999. 0-14-100226-3. $14.00. SA

The Manila was the stuff of romantic sea legend: a mighty Spanish galleon, carrying a fabulous treasure of silver, making a solitary voyage across the Pacific each year from Acapulco to the Philippines. Ever since Sir Francis Drake overpowered a treasure ship off the coast of Peru, every mariner had dreamed of capturing one of those towering vessels. Yet the galleons were heavily armed, the Pacific Ocean was wide, and for years the Spanish shipments continued in peace.

Author Glyn Williams tells the story of Commodore George Anson, who in 1743 managed to repeat Drake's feat. The beginning of a dreary naval war with Spain offered Great Britain the opportunity to make a masterstroke, and Anson was dispatched to the Far East with six warships to capture the treasure ship near the end of its long annual voyage. The British admiral soon lost five of his ships to storm, shipwreck and desertion, and nearly all of his men succumbed to scurvy and wounds. Yet he managed to reach the Philippines, intercept and overcome the Nuestra de Senora de Covadonga, and continue his epic voyage home, becoming the second person to circumnavigate the globe.

Professor Williams, a specialist in the Age of Exploration and the author of several other maritime histories, has written a fine, up-to-date account of this improbable adventure. It is well researched and academically watertight, yet Williams has the knack of making his scholarly work read like popular history. There is enough action here to satisfy the most ardent YA reader, yet plenty of careful work to appeal to specialists in the field. Recommended to public, school, and academic collections. Raymond L. Puffer, Ph.D., Historian, Edwards Air Force Base, CA
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Author:Puffer, Raymond L.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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