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Piracy: The Complete History
Synopses & Reviews
When we think of pirates we conjure up images of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, or even fictional pirates such as Long John Silver, Captain Hook and Captain Jack Sparrow. These historical characters all hailed from one period. Known as "The Golden Age of Piracy", this period only lasted around a quarter of a century - from around 1700 until 1725. However, piracy has been around a lot longer than that. In fact ever since people started venturing onto the sea, others were waiting to waylay them.
Pirate expert Angus Konstam sails through the brutal history of piracy, from the pirates who plagued the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the Viking raids on northern Europe through the golden age of piracy and on to the era of privateers who flourished during a period of constant warring on the European continent. He then examines the West's initial encounters with Eastern pirates off the Chinese coast whose confederations had sprung up in the 17th century and whose actions were severely hampering the West by the 19th century. Finally Konstam examines the phenomenon of the modern pirate, preying on modern super tankers. The reality of piracy is that it is a vicious, often deadly business. By separating the realities of piracy from the Hollywood-inspired fiction, and by tracing the development of piracy through the centuries, this book gives a realistic vision of what piracy actually involves.
The book includes approximately 100 color and black & white images, eight maps, a glossary of sea terms, notes on sources and a bibliography.
Chapter 1: Piracy in the Ancient World; Chapter 2: Medieval Pirates; Chapter 3: The Sea Dogs of the Renaissance; Chapter 4: Mediterranean Corsairs; Chapter 5: The Buccaneers of the Caribbean; Chapter 6: The Golden Age of Piracy; Chapter 7: The Pirate Round; Chapter 8: The Last of the Pirates; Chapter 9 The Chinese Pirates; Chapter 10: Modern Pirates; Chapter 11: Pirates in Fiction; Conclusion
"If you think pirating is about hoisting the skull and crossbones, swigging from bottles o'rum, and making lily-livers walk the plank, prolific history author Konstam is here to correct those romantic notions with a far less glamorous, but no less interesting, high seas history. The 'golden age' of piracy, upon which most pirate lore is based, lasted only a quarter of a century, from 1700-1725, but the practice has been around as long as seamanship-often masquerading as naval heroism. Konstam includes Cretans, Viking sea raiders, French corsairs and even Sir Francis Drake in his rogues' gallery. The lives of most pirates were mostly Hobbesian: nasty, brutish and short. Indeed, the most notorious-Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach-usually ended up with their heads in a noose or on a pike, though escapes weren't unknown: two female pirates, Mary Read and Ann Bonny, got pregnant to avoid death sentences. Modern pirates still lurk off the coasts of Indonesia, Africa and South America, employing automatic weapons and speedboats in place of cutlasses and frigates. Though it may take some of the wind out of their favorite Hollywood scallywag's sails, this engaging, comprehensive account of one of the world's oldest profession should fascinate pirate-lubbers. Illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Angus Konstam is a prolific author, with over 50 historical titles in print. Over 30 of these have been for Osprey. His piratical titles include The History of Pirates (Lyons Press, New York, 1999), Pirates! and Pirates, 1680-1730 (both Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2000) and The Pirate Ship (Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2003). Other publications include History of Shipwrecks, A Historical Atlas of Exploration, and The Spanish Galleon. He studied history and archaeology at the Scottish Universities of Aberdeen and St. Andrews, and is also a former naval officer, an underwater archaeologist and a museum curator. He has advised the archaeologists who excavated Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge, and has made several TV appearances as a piratical "talking head" for the History Channel. His latest work is Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate (Wiley, New York, 2006), which is publishing in early June. The author lives in Edinburgh, UK.
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