This book describes the life of a pirate in the early 18th century, the 'Golden Age of Piracy'. It charts the way these men (and a few women) were recruited, how they operated, what they looked like and what prospects their lives held. In the process the book strips away many of the myths associated with piracy to reveal the harsh realities of those who lived beyond the normal bounds of society. Written by pirate expert Angus Konstam, the book draws on decades of research into the subject, and pulls together information from a myriad of sources including official reports, contemporary newspaper reports, trial proceedings and court testimony last words on the scaffold, letters and diaries as well as archaeological evidence and relevant objects and artefacts from museum collections on both sides of the Atlantic. A must have for fans of the classic pirate stories or warfare in the early 18th century.
If you think pirating is about hoisting the skull and crossbones, swigging from bottles o'rum, and making lily-livers walk the plank, prolific history author Konstam is here to correct those romantic notions with a far less glamorous, but no less interesting, high seas history. The "golden age" of piracy, upon which most pirate lore is based, lasted only a quarter of a century, from 1700-1725, but the practice has been around as long as seamanship-often masquerading as naval heroism. Konstam includes Cretans, Viking sea raiders, French corsairs and even Sir Francis Drake in his rogues' gallery. The lives of most pirates were mostly Hobbesian: nasty, brutish and short. Indeed, the most notorious-Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward "Blackbeard" Teach-usually ended up with their heads in a noose or on a pike, though escapes weren't unknown: two female pirates, Mary Read and Ann Bonny, got pregnant to avoid death sentences. Modern pirates still lurk off the coasts of Indonesia, Africa and South America, employing automatic weapons and speedboats in place of cutlasses and frigates. Though it may take some of the wind out of their favorite Hollywood scallywag's sails, this engaging, comprehensive account of one of the world's oldest profession should fascinate pirate-lubbers. Illus.