"A thorough, exciting examination of 18th-century pirate life,with wonderful details."
"Interesting and exciting . . . a thoroughly enjoyable chronicle of an interesting life and interesting era."
The definitive biography of history'smost fearsome and famous pirate
Of all the colorful cutthroats who scoured the seas in search of plunder during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early eighteenth century, none was more ferocious or notorious than Blackbeard. As unforgettable as his savage career was, much of Blackbeard's life has been shrouded in mystery--until now.
Drawing on vivid descriptions of Blackbeard's attacks from his rare surviving victims, pirate expert Angus Konstam traces Blackbeard's career from its beginnings to his final defeat in a tremendous sea battle near his base at Ocracoke Island. Presenting dramatic accounts of the pirate's very effective tactics and his reputation for cruelty, Konstam offers a fascinating examination of the life and business of piracy and the lure of this brutal and bloody trade.
Konstam, the Scottish author of more than 50 maritime history books here explores the dreaded Blackbeard, "the archetypal pirate of the age...and one of the most fearsome figures around." Konstam makes a thorough, exciting examination of 18th century pirate life, with wonderful details such as the pirates' code, which can read as a precursor to America's own Bill of Rights: "Every man has a Vote in Affairs of Monument, has equal Title to the fresh Provisions, or strong Liquors, at any Time seized & use them at pleasure." However, the author's portrait of the seadog fails for two reasons: first, very little is known about Blackbeard, and Konstam hasn't been able to uncover much that's new; "we must assume" becomes a frequent, frustrating qualifier when the book focuses on its subject. Secondly, Konstram is fond of cliches: a ruler's power base collapses "like a house of cards" while another is able to "walk the political tightrope;" and the feared pirate himself "would stop at nothing to get what he wanted." The padding necessary to produce a lengthy version of Blackbeard's story produces a work that has little of the dash and derring-do readers will expect from the biography of a pirate, and ends up painting Blackbeard less as a terror of the high seas than a bully with a big boat. Illustrations.