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Pirates, without the arrr.
July 19, 2010 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Recommend me a good book on pirates. Without any arrring please.

I've wasted more time than I'd admit playing 'Pirates and Traders' on the phone (highly recommended if you have android) and it's got me interested in pirates and Caribbean history in general.

Can you suggest a good book; one which has a good focus on principal characters, 'pirates' and otherwise, ties in the economic and political background of the period, explains the development and history, but which also manages to be readable and engaging?
posted by BadMiker to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I enjoyed Under The Black Flag.
posted by Floydd at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2010


David Cordingly's "Under the Black Flag"
posted by Naberius at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2010


Neal Stephenson's Bonanza (which is actually book 3 of the Baroque Cycle) is a delightful piratical tale. If you're interested in economy (spec. numismatics), 18th-century political intrigue and action (high-seas and land-based) you really should read the entirety of the cycle. It takes place more in Europe and Asia than the New World, but still.
posted by griphus at 8:40 AM on July 19, 2010


This might not be what you are looking for, but if you are interested in understanding Pirates, this is a very important thing to read.

It is an academic paper (therefore a bit heavy to read) which explains why Pirates were so successful at creating working military ships - both from a economic and legal point of view. It is a very enlightening read.

An-Arggh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organizations - by Peter Leeson
posted by Flood at 8:41 AM on July 19, 2010


Historian husband seconds Cordingly's Under the Black Flag.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:42 AM on July 19, 2010


I too was going to suggest Peter Leeson. He has a book too called the Invisible Hook.
posted by akabobo at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2010


The Pirate Wars by Peter Earle concentrates on the struggle between pirates and navies, in the Caribbean from the Sixteenth Century onwards. It's informative, quite readable and pitched at an amateur level. Might be a bit dry for some, Earle is an academic historian and doesn't have a romantic attitude towards pirates.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:44 AM on July 19, 2010


Nthing Peter Leeson.
posted by proj at 8:54 AM on July 19, 2010


Villains of All Nations by Marcus Rediker

Bandits at Sea edited by C.R. Pennell


These were the two books required by a class I took on the culture of pirates last year. There were a lot of other readings that fall under what you are asking about but those articles were only accessible through my university.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:11 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cordingly's Under the Black Flag is a very good intro - easy to read, relatively short and with solid information - with two flaws: it can be a bit dry and it's an overview so you're not going to get the kind of detail about specific pirates' adventures as you'd find in something that focuses a bit more, like, say, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, which I've heard good things about but haven't read yet.
posted by mediareport at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2010


I enjoyed The Pirates Lafitte. The focus is on Jean Lafitte, a notorious pirate operating in the Gulf of Mexico and based in/around New Orleans in the early 19th century.
posted by Bourbonesque at 9:43 AM on July 19, 2010


I came to recommend Marcus Rediker, as astapasta has. I'd almost call Villains of All Nations a page-turner. It makes a fascinating case for considering pirates as being pivotal to the formation of a working-class identity and also as part of a nascent labour rights movement. You can't go wrong with Rediker, really. If you are interested in this sort of thing, also check out The Many-Headed Hydra, co-written with Linebaugh. He's also written Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World which I haven't read but would like to.

You might also want to check out Daniel Heller-Roazen's recent book The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations which is more philosophical and definitely not as much fun, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by synecdoche at 10:22 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You would enjoy Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels, beginning with Master and Commander. "Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and centred on the friendship of English Naval Captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish–Catalan physician Stephen Maturin, the 20-novel series is known for its well-researched and highly detailed portrayal of early 19th century life, as well as its authentic and evocative language." While not centered on pirates, there's a fair amount of Navy vs pirate action, as British captains were allowed to keep whatever booty they captured from pirates; this was their main income.
posted by neuron at 10:42 AM on July 19, 2010


Cities of the Red Night by William Burroughs does not have too much arrr in it.
posted by ovvl at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2010


I just finished Captain Blood (purchased the audiobook for like $10 from these guys) and I loved it!

It's set in the Caribbean in the late 1600's and according to wiki (article has spoilers!), "While Blood is a fictional character, much of the historical background of the novel is based on fact."

It's out of copyright, you can download the text for free from Gutenberg.
posted by exhilaration at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2010


If only for its arresting title, may I present Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition. I bought it out of sheer curiosity, and was surprised by what a fascinating book it was.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:39 PM on July 19, 2010


If we're suggesting fiction then it's worth linking this thread. And god, I can't believe I've forgotten about tim_in_oz's link; it's controversial but fascinating.
posted by mediareport at 6:28 PM on July 19, 2010


Also: The Devil's Anarchy
posted by Skyanth at 3:36 AM on July 20, 2010


Thanks all. Some great recommendations (I hope; I've gone out and bought a load now...)
posted by BadMiker at 5:46 AM on July 20, 2010


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