12 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Delos - reviewed Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates on
Helpful Score: 3
I was so excited to finally find this book on a shelf to buy (go figure, I had to wait to find a pirate bookstore to find it - yeah, there is one, in Key West) and it did not disappoint. Ive had it on my Wish List here since it was recommended by The Word Detective.
It is so interesting, you won't be able to resist reading the fascinating tidbits out loud to your poor roommate, who now knows more about pirates than he ever wanted to. I had no idea that our idea of pirates is based on only a few fictional sources. This has many great examples of reality being more interesting than fiction.
Non-fiction book on pirates. Cordingly does a good job of showing that although the reality of pirate life was not as benign or romantic as today's consumer of piratical historical fictions would like to think, the truth is just as fascinating and interesting as the fiction.
The book is well-researched, careful to state what is known, what is not known, and what is simply not likely. Adequate footnotes are given for all sources. (And unreliable sources are diligently explained to be such.) Chock-full of interesting facts and anecdotes; worth reading for anyone interested in finding out some of the truths behind the pirate mythos.
However, the topics are somewhat oddly divided into thematic chapters, each of which reads somewhat like a research term paper for a history class - not the most smooth or evocative prose I've ever read!
This book is incredibly informative on the factual topics of the life of pirates. It is a great resource on everything pirate relates, and even details some of the better known buccaneers' lives as well as thier interaction with other notorious men (and women) of the golden age.
'Under the Black Flag' is a thoroughly researched book about the pirates of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Its facts are well documented with pages of footnotes and appendixes however it reads more like a novel than a dry text book. Full Review
This was a very comprehensive look at the history of piracy as contrasted with the legends of pirates portrayed in literature and film. Cordingly obviously did his research and included information on many of the famous and not so famous pirates of history including Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Henry Morgan, etc. He also included information on the female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonney which was quite fascinating and on probably the most notorious pirate operating in the China seas, Mrs. Cheng, whose fleets of junks ruled the South China seas in the early nineteenth century. "The sheer numbers involved in some of Cheng's attacks make the activities of the pirates in the West Indies pale into insignificance...her forces went into action with several hundred vessels and up to two thousand pirates!" I was also surprised to learn that one of the most successful pirates operating in the West Indies was Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart) who was infinitely more successful than Blackbeard or Captain Kidd but who has not received as much recognition.
The book contains information on everything related to piracy including their ships, flags, methods of fighting, marooning, imprisonment, executions, and on and on. Some of this was rather tedious and repetitious and was to me a drawback to the overall book. I found myself skimming some of the more tedious descriptions. I did find interesting the information presented on pirate literature including Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, works by Daniel Defoe, and Rafael Sabatini. Many of Sabatini's novels were made into successful films including Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and The Black Swan.
Overall, only a mild recommendation for this one but it would probably be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about the history of piracy.