Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates (Harvest Book)

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9780156005494: Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates (Harvest Book)

"This is the most authoritative and highly literate account of these pernicious people that I have ever read." -- Patrick O'Brian

Pirates are so much a part of legend that it is easy to forget they actually existed. UNDER THE BLACK FLAG tells their story in a rollicking account of the golden age of piracy that is packed with history, anecdote, and above all adventure. Here are the true stories of such bloodthirsty legends as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, and the fearsome Mary Read. And here are rousing descriptions of what ships pirates sailed, what punishments they exacted, what they really wore, and how they flourished--or perished. From the smoky havoc of shipboard battle to the loneliness of a fugitive's life at sea, this spellbinding narrative vividly brings the brutal world of pirates to life.

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Review:

Though literature, films, and folklore have romanticized pirates as gallant seaman who hunted for treasure in exotic locales, David Cordingly, a former curator at the National Maritime Museum in England, reveals the facts behind the legends of such outlaws as Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, and Calico Jack. Even stories about buried treasure are fictitious, he says, yet still the myth remains. Though pirate captains were often sadistic villains and crews endured barbarous tortures, were constantly threatened with the possibility of death by hanging, drowning in a storm, or surviving a shipwreck on a hostile coast, pirates are still idealized. Cordingly examines why the myth of the romance of piratehood endures and why so few lived out their days in luxury on the riches they had plundered.

From the Inside Flap:

For this rousing, revisionist history, the former head of exhibitions at England's National Maritime Museum has combed original documents and records to produce a most authoritative and definitive account of piracy's "Golden Age." As he explodes many accepted myths (i.e. "walking the plank" is pure fiction), Cordingly replaces them with a truth that is more complex and often bloodier. 16 pp. of photos. Maps.

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