Synopses & Reviews
Many peoples throughout history have fought pirates, writes Alfred Bradford in Flying the Black Flag. Some have lost and some have won. We should learn from their experience. From Odysseus—the original pirate of literature and lore—through Blackbeard and the feared pirates of the Spanish Main, his book reveals the strategies and methods pirates used to cheat, lie, kill, and rob their way into the historical record, wreaking terror in their bloody wakes.
The story begins with a discussion of Piracy and the Suppression of Piracy in the Ancient World. It details, for example, how the Illyrians used pirate vessels to try to wrest control of the Adriatic Coast from the mighty Romans, as well as how the intrepid Vikings went from pirate raids to the conquest of parts of Western Europe.
Moving into the 17th century and to the New World, Bradford depicts the golden age of the pirates. Here are the Spanish Buccaneers and the fabled Caribbean stronghold of Tortuga. Here are Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, and their fearsome counterparts. But piracy was hardly just a Western phenomenon. The Barbary Pirates looks East to examine the struggle between Christian and Muslim in the Mediterranean, while To the Shores of Tripoli details the American conflict with the Barbary Pirates. It reveals the lessons of a war conducted across a great distance against a nebulous enemy, a war in which victory was achieved only by going after the pirates' sponsor. On the South China Coast, we meet the first Dragon Lady, leader of Chinese pirates.
As intriguing as these tales of the past are in and of themselves, the stories and their swashbuckling villains hold lessons for us even today. In Conclusions and Reflections, Bradford gathers all of the chords together, discussing the conditions under which piracy arises, the conditions under which pirates organize and become more powerful, and the methods used to suppress piracy. Finally, he examines similarities between pirates and terrorists—and whether the lessons learned from the wars against pirates of the past might also apply to modern day terrorists.
"In this accessible narrative, Bradford surveys more than 2,000 years of piracy around the world. He begins with a description of the exploits of Odysseus. Other topics include the Vikings, the Barbary pirates, and the notorious Dragon Lady, leader of the pirates of the South China coast. Bradford concludes by examining the similarities between pirates and terrorists." -
Reference & Research Book News
In this accessible narrative, Bradford surveys more than 2,000 years of piracy around the world. He begins with a description of the exploits of Odysseus. Other topics include the Vikings, the Barbary pirates, and the notorious Dragon Lady, leader of the pirates of the South China coast. Bradford concludes by examining the similarities between pirates and terrorists.Reference and Research Book News
"At the center of the book's jacket illustration, a bearded, bloodthirsty pirate captain brandishes a cutlass with which he is about to split an embattled naval officer's skull. Desperate men shooting, slashing, stabbing, and throttling one another surround the captain and the officer. The dead and dying litter the deck. Prospective readers might assume that this scene, when considered with the black flag that is part of the title, indicates the book is about piracy from the early 1600s to about 1725. If so, they would be dead wrong!… There is a good deal of material on Greek and Roman piracy that will probably be new to all but the most dedicated piracy buffs. Recommended. General collections and public libraries." -
A history of piracy from the ancient world through the golden age, revealing techniques of terror and fear used by pirates against their victims.
About the Author
ALFRED S. BRADFORD is the John Saxon Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Ph.D. in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago. He served with the 1/27th Infantry in Vietnam. He has been a research assistant and a member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.