With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters is “rumbustious enough for the adventure-hungry” (Peter Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle).
Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age” - spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s - when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. “Deftly blending scholarship and drama” (Richard Zacks), best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them. Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them the towering Blackbeard, the ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Black Flags, Blue Waters is a “tour de force history” (Michael Pierce, Midwestern Rewind) of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.
In this informative volume, Dolin (When America First Met China) focuses on "pirates who either operated out of America's English colonies or plundered ships along the American coast" during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, a period dubbed the Golden Age of Piracy. While he is an unabashed fan of popular culture's treatment of legendary pirates, and includes a chapter on that topic, Dolin more than meets his objective of separating fact from fiction and establishing that there was "absolutely nothing romantic about , other than the legends woven about their exploits after they were gone." Graphic descriptions of violence, such as sexual assaults of passengers, debunk the image of pirates as appealing rogues. This is also more than just a litany of raids on prospective prey and battles between pirates and governments; for context, Dolin lays out the history of "political intrigue and collusion" between pirates and colonists who encouraged them because they enabled colonists "to obtain the goods and money they so desperately desired despite the onerous trade restrictions put in place by the mother country." Dolin's interpretations could be debated he asserts that Capt. William Kidd was really a pirate but this is nonetheless an excellent starting point for readers interested in this misunderstood chapter of American history.
A fun read
While entertaining it does seem to lack its own discovery of many topics and discussions. Never the less gives great summary of how in many instances many of those who were labeled pirates were nothing more than extensions of government militaries of the time that ultimately were turned on once no longer needed.