Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And you thought it was just a ride at Disneyland...

I'm reading a book right now that's just a bit out of character for me. Well, maybe not too out of character, as I love histories. This book is called, "The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down" by Colin Woodard.

This is an awesome book. Woodard focuses his book on the Golden Age of Piracy, which is basically between 1715 and 1725 in the Caribbean Sea and within that, he focuses on the four most colorful figures of the era - Sam Bellamy, Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch and Charles Vane, who were all pirates and the man who brought them down, was also a pirate by the name of Woodes Rogers. The writing is a fast paced narrative that doesn't slow down for a minute. The author gives enough details to get his point across without getting bogged down in them, which is good because life wasn't pretty back then. He's honest about the nature of piracy and doesn't romaticize the lifestyle in the least, but I am actually quite sympathetic to the plight of these men and can understand why many turned to piracy. The life of a sailor was a nightmare of starvation, danger and brutality at the hands of the ship's captains. Many pirate societies were egalitarian in nature and provided a much better life for these men, albeit was a life of crime. This book is worldwide in its scope, ranging from the politics and intrigue in Europe regarding the Wars of Succession in Spain and its influence on piracy, to Woodes Rogers crew sacking Spanish Ships off the west coast of South America and finding the real Robinson Crusoe, to Henry Avery's sacking of an Indian Moghul's treasure caravan in the Indian Ocean and then beating it to Nassau to dump the ship and take off with the loot. I really think that the author, Woodard, does a good job of taking a complicated subject and fleshing out the important parts and disgarding the rest.

I'm about a third of the way through this read, so I can't tell much more, other than it's a great book, and if you're looking for something a little different - this one is a great pick!

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