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The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kiddby Richard Zacks
Synopses & Reviews
In the spirit of Nathaniel Philbrick?s In the Heart of the Sea, the true story of Captain Kidd?s adventure of betrayal and courage on the high seas.
Everybody knows the legend of Captain Kidd, America?s most ruthless buccanneer. Few people realize that the facts of his life make for a much better tale. Kidd was actually a tough New York sea captain hired to chase pirates, a married war hero whose secret mission took a spectacularly bad turn. This harrowing tale traces Kidd?s voyages in the 1690s from his home near Wall Street to Whitehall Palace in London, from the ports of the Caribbean to a secret pirate paradise off Madagascar. Author Richard Zacks, during his research, also unearthed the story of a long forgotten rogue named Robert Culliford, who dogged Kidd and led Kidd?s crew to mutiny not once but twice. The lives of Kidd and Culliford play out like an unscripted duel: one man would hang in the harbor, the other would walk away with the treasure. Filled with superb writing and impeccable research, The Pirate Hunter is both a masterpiece of historical detective work and a ripping good yarn, and it delivers something rare: an authentic pirate story for grown-ups.
"Zacks is fully sympathetic to the wronged "pirate" Kidd, right up to the town-square spectacle of his hanging in London in 1701. (Kidd, brave until that point, got rip-roaring drunk on his way to the gallows ? and can you blame him?) In the 400-some pages leading up to that cruel end, The Pirate Hunter asks and answers numerous questions with a few swift strokes: Do we ever really want our legends debunked, cut down to human size? Is it preferable to keep them larger than life by never finding out the true story? In Kidd's case, it's better to know more. Zacks digs up facts that are more fascinating than legend, proving that history isn't just stranger than fiction, but more riveting. If he had made it all up, it couldn't have been any better. Or sadder." Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)
"Entertaining, richly detailed and authoritatively narrated...Zack's book is a treasure, indeed." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A lively, educational, thoroughly spellbinding trip back in time." Booklist
"A dashingly narrated life of Captain William Kidd....Exciting, well told, and befitting the wild life of a pirate — even if Kidd wasn't one." Kirkus Reviews
"...a richly detailed nautical thriller... combines exciting escapism with thought-provoking history." James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets
". . . a buccaneer tale for moderns . . . Zacks artfully leads the reader through the courtrooms, bedrooms, and staterooms of the 17th-century villainy, switching all the while between gravitas and wit." Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family, National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction
"A dizzying tour of a varnished 17th century world whose ports of call range from the pig-infested streets of New York to the lemur-haunted forests of Madagascar . . . Brimming with authority, eccentricity and grisly detail, it is everything a pirate book should be." Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo
"Here at long last is the Kidd story rendered for adults." Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
A literary treasure, The Pirate Hunter is a masterpiece of historical detective work, and a rare, authentic pirate story for grown-ups. Captain Kidd has gone down in history as America's most ruthless buccaneer, fabulously rich, burying dozens of treasure chests up and down the eastern seaboard. But it turns out that most everyone, even many respected scholars, have the story all wrong. Captain William Kidd was no career cut-throat; he was a tough, successful New York sea captain who was hired to chase pirates. His three-year odyssey aboard the aptly named Adventure galley pitted him against arrogant Royal Navy commanders, jealous East India Company captains, storms, starvation, angry natives, and, above all, flesh-and-blood pirates. Superbly written and impeccably researched, The Pirate Hunter is one ripping good yarn.
About the Author
Richard Zacks is the author of two non-fiction books: History Laid Bare and An Underground Education. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Time, Village Voice, Harper's and many other publications. He lives in Pelham, New York.
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