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Pirate Hunter 191

Posted by timothy
from the got-panther dept.
Peter Wayner writes: "One of the greatest mysteries of today is whether a pirate is good or bad. On one hand, Disney campaigns against digital piracy while making a movie ( "Pirates of the Caribbean") pushing a theme park ride that celebrates life under the Jolly Roger. On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, while on the other hand this fine, upstanding investment company was fined $19.7m for copyright infringement and no one used the word 'Pirate.' This is the world that greets the paperback edition of Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks's excellent history of the late so-called pirate, Captain William Kidd." Read on for the rest of Peter's review.
Pirate Hunter
author Richard Zacks
pages 426
publisher Hyperion
rating 8
reviewer Peter Wayner
ISBN 0786884517
summary The life and times of an real pirate.

While Kidd's name may be synonymous with piracy in our culture's muddled collective memory, the book establishes that the sailor was nothing of the sort. If anything, he was framed by powerful forces trying to maintain a struggling business model. Why does that sound familiar?

This book is a wonderful example of what a talented writer and a relentless researcher can do with records that date from the 17th century. Kidd was born in Scotland in 1654, lived to see the 18th century, and recorded some of his daily life in log books that were sometimes sketchy and sometimes voluminous. By synthesizing the information from Kidd's papers, various British archives, ships logs, correspondence and other ephemera, Zacks was able to build a detailed narrative around Kidd's last major voyage. Did you know that in 1699, the going price for fine silks and other exotic fabrics was about 3 yards per piece of eight? Or perhaps that Cotton Mather preached to Kidd on January 21, 1700 on Jeremiah 17:11? I shudder to think what someone will be able to do with the Wayback machine.

By 1696 when the book begins, Kidd was one of the wealthiest landowners in the United States living in a river front mansion near Wall Street. His block and tackle helped build Trinity Church where his family sat in the fourth row each Sunday. Kidd married well and his wife gave him a child. Kidd was, according to his marriage certificate, a gentleman. Still, as Richard Grasso found out, this wasn't enough to stop the political winds from turning an seemingly honest dollar into ill-gotten plunder.

The pirate world, on the other hand, was a different place from the tip of Manhattan. The men on a true pirate ship sailed hard, tortured the weak ships they could find, and then spent their earnings on rum and women in sketchy ports of call that asked no questions. It was, according to the dreaded pirate Bartholomew Roberts , "A merry life and a short one."

Still, despite the disrespect for the rules of property, the pirate life offered many other socially advanced customs that outdistanced the civilized world where the Kings and Queens proclaimed they ruled by divine right. Zacks points out that pirate ships were run as strict democracies and the captains could be deposed at any time by a recall election known as a parlay. "All food and liquor was to be shared equally, a mind-boggling concept for sailors long used to watching officers dine and guzzle for hours on end," he notes.

So why did Kidd leave his comfortable New York home and head to sea again? Zacks establishes that Kidd was given a commission by four lords in the British admirality. Kidd received a new ship, a crew, and the instructions to capture any of the pirates who were plaguing the British East India companies. Kidd was to be a pirate hunter, a fighter for good, not evil, who would conveniently split his takings with his four backers. Some details of the commission were kept secret because the backers were going to keep the treasure and avoid giving the goods back to the rightful owners who lost the treasure to the pirates in the first place. This was a cousin to the doctrine proclaiming that two wrongs make a right.

The book sails through Kidd's voyage in exquisite detail. It's a pirate story that sometimes wilder and sometimes slower than any fiction writer could offer. Somewhere along the trip, the rumors begin to circulate that Kidd had turned pirate. Zacks suggests the whispers began as an act of treachery by one of his old partners who did dabble in piracy. The partners could cover their own tracks by blaming Kidd. The rumors fed into the Royal Navy's faulty intelligence network which dutifully hyped the size of the pirate world in order to serve its own ends.

Along the way, it becomes clear that piracy was as much a different political system as a violent crime against property. When the laws and strictures of society grow too binding, men might slip them off and sail into the sunset. Piracy was a decision to forgo the social contract that most had never signed in the first place, in most cases because the social contract offered by the official government was not particular gracious. Zacks compares life on a pirate ship to life under the British flag when the opportunity presents itself.

Who received a greater share of the wealth? Which class structure was more rigid? Who was responsible for more privation and inhumanity? It's impossible to do the calculus, but Zacks makes it clear that the pirates understood something of what Bob Dylan's theorem that you must be honest to live outside the law. At one bitterly ironic point, the black so-called pirates on Kidd's ship are treated with much more respect than the white ones, but only because the captors know that the black ones will fetch a nice price at the slave market in London.

In Kidd's case, the question of his piracy oscillates in a mechanism of a war between political factions. Zacks suggests that the English East India company, which was sort of the Microsoft of the day when sea trade was high tech, fanned the rumors of Kidd's departure from fair society to ingratiate itself before the Grand Moghul in India. Kidd's commission to take so-called pirate ships put him at odds with the work of the trading company which launched merchant ships skirting their own set of rules.

So the book evolves on two levels. The men fight with guns and ships that are all just extensions of lawyers and corporations. Kidd's struggle to gain a fortune, repay his backers, and return to his wife in New York gets caught in the middle of the greater evolution of English law, American rebellion, French imperialism, and old fashioned greed, . Was he a pirate or gentleman? Does he plunder enough pirates to repay his backers? Does he survive to clear his name? It would be a shame to ruin this fine story by revealing the ending of the book. Of course, the deeper questions of the true nature of piracy and its hold on our imagination, continue to resonate today.


Peter Wayner is the author of Policing Online Games , a book about pirate hunting of a sort, and Java RAMBO Manifesto , an exploration of how to live without a database. You can purchase Pirate Hunter from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Pirate Hunter

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  • by lostindenver (53192) on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:49PM (#7240916)
    Per slashdot quote machine when I read this review: "This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force". -- Dorothy Parker
  • Why pirates are bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zanek (546281)
    Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense. They are those that take property of others.
    What Disney et al have done is romantize the Pirate for movies and the like to sell a product.
    They glamorize it, make it look cool, fun, exciting, and package it
    like anything else. All we have here is the new commercialization of something old which was bad now made to seem cool
    We've all seen that happen before . Think about it:-)
    • Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense. They are those that take property of others.
      What Disney et al have done is romantize the Pirate for movies and the like to sell a product.
      They glamorize it, make it look cool, fun, exciting, and package it
      like anything else. All we have here is the new commercialization of something old which was bad now made to seem cool


      So what you're saying is that the copy of Winzip that I just cracked will not make me handsome, and cool? ..... Disney has
    • That sounds like non-pirate talk to me!

      Get him boys!

    • Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense.

      Pirates at various times were commisioned by governments such as England as a means to wage war on enemy nations, such as Spain. They would even turn a portion of their booty over to the King in return for the ships and safe havens he provided. Since they weren't military, but private citizens, they weren't subject to the "Rules of War" which would have frowned on attacking merchant ships on the open seas (part of why Germany's U-boat campaig

  • Hakim Bey: TAZ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by handy_vandal (606174) on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:53PM (#7240961) Homepage Journal
    Hakim Bey has written some interesting things about pirates, and Temporary Autonomous Zones. Excerpt:

    Pirate Utopias

    "THE SEA-ROVERS AND CORSAIRS of the 18th century created an "information network" that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands supported "intentional communities," whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life."

    http://www.gulfislands.com/momo/TAZ.html [gulfislands.com]
    • booty traded for luxuries and necessities

      If I were a lonely horny pirate, I'd probably be trading some luxuries for some booty myself.

      C//
    • Careful, or you'll be the next upstanding investment company was fined $19.7m for copyright infringement. :)
    • Dang, didn't know that site was still active; should be defunct, and now it's going to get a small /.ing... oh well.

      My favourite rant/quote from that [H.Bey's Pirate Utopias]:

      Captain Bellamy

      Daniel Defoe, writing under the pen name Captain Charles Johnson, wrote what became the first standard historical text on pirates, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. According to Patrick Pringle's Jolly Roger, pirate recruitment was most effective among the unemployed,

  • by ellem (147712) * <ellem52NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:54PM (#7240970) Homepage Journal
    It isn;t a wildly diff't story and Dafoe's but is was a great read and it DID remind me a lot of Pirates! which kicks ass.

    The big flaw is is that it is _too_ apologetic of Kidd. No, he didn't mean to be a Pirate, but he was.
  • I Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:54PM (#7240972) Homepage Journal

    A pirate has come to mean something too cudly and innocuous. In fact, the loose use of the term to describe otherwise ordinary people engaging in distribution of material copyrighted by others has done much to diminish the proud tradition of "pirate".

    From now on, all official RIAA pronouncements will obide by a new naming scheme. Opponents of RIAA will be referred to as "digital terrorists", "hackers", and "pedophiles", preferably in the same sentence.

    • Here's to that.

      "Piracy" implies brutally violent armed robbery, in a place where policing and other preventive or retributional measures are essentially infeasable. That is, Spain couldn't police the Caribbean or the African coast, so pirates had relative immunity unless their weatherweary prey somehow got

      Software and Copyright "piracy" barely qualifies as theft. The only thing the victim loses because of the crime is a potential sale. No violence, malice, or brutality is involved. Not even greed, rea
  • I'll have to go get this from the library.
  • Pirate's Progress? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsanth (619234) on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:57PM (#7241017)
    After reading the bookseller's reviews [barnesandnoble.com], I didn't find any references to modern-day piracy.

    Contrary to the review given here, I don't see anything about the book "evolving on two levels"; rather, I see a biography.

    I mean... I'll still give it a read at the bookstore (and maybe pick it up), but I think it'd be prudent to know that I'm getting myself into a biography, not some veiled reference to today's legal issues.
    • Agreed. It's open to interpretation, surely, but it reminds me of how every single book in high school ended up to actually be about the fall of man from grace just because a character would "fall" at some point in the story, no matter who fell or how. See, now that you think about it, it makes sense, but un-think about it, and you can see that it could just be that the character fell down and went boom. Similarly, the parallels to modern "piracy" surely make sense but we can't assume that it's the autho
  • Psychic! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cK-Gunslinger (443452) on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:58PM (#7241022) Journal
    Without even reading anything more than the story blurb, I deduce that this book got a rating of... 8!

    [checks rating]

    Ding! Ding! Step right up folks, a winner every time. =P
  • sugarcoating... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cedric C. Girouard (21203) <cedricgirouard+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2003 @12:59PM (#7241041)

    Disney's ability to sugarcoat things is a well known one...

    They've been doing it forever... Ghost's, pirate's, even lions... I for one have seen a lion feed, and trust me, it's not a cuddly thing...

    I shudder to think of the next Disney huggy-feely movie... Something like "My dear serial-killer..." or "The pedophile King" ... These guys could probably make Saddam into a model neighbourg...

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go wash my twisted mind with bleach...

  • by kfg (145172) on Friday October 17, 2003 @01:04PM (#7241082)
    . . .as I sailed,
    My name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed.
    My name was Robert Kidd, and God's laws I did forbid,
    And much wickedness I did, as I sailed."

    Captain Kidd was no pirate. He was a privateer. Still, if you are the victim of such there is little to tell between them.

    Many pirates were gentleman themselves and often acted to higher level of ethics and morality than their privateer cousins.

    Privateers were no choir boys. They killed. They stole. They simply did it under the aegis of "law."

    But certainly Kidd was no pirate and was ill used by his powerful patrons. In the words of Woody Guthrie, "Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen."

    I know how the story ends already. My family comes from one of the areas where Kidd is reputed to have buried his treasure. There's nothing really new in this book that can't be found elsewhere. Still, it's a good telling of the story for those unfamiliar with it.

    KFG
    • Captain Kidd was no pirate. He was a privateer.

      Who commissioned him? I'd have thought that the British certainly would have considered that a significant datum.

      • Lord Bellomont, Governor of New York.

        Backers included Sir John Somers, Keeper of the Great Seal and Sir Edward Russell, First Lord of the Admirality. The King himself promised backing but never delivered it.

        This was a private business deal to hunt pirates, but before he sailed he was also issued letters of marque, one to hunt pirates and one to prey on French shipping. I have a photo of one of these as it still exists. The one to hunt pirates was a direct commission from the King and issued under the Grea
  • This is silly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MythoBeast (54294) on Friday October 17, 2003 @01:05PM (#7241099) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that this guy thinks that the seagoing pirates were good guys? Certainly we've romanticized that kind of pirate, but this is a form of social blindness purposefully done in the name of entertainment.

    The original pirates were just guys who lived outside the law by stealing whatever they could from those who went outside law's reach. We've romanticized them because of their freedom.

    In a few specific cases, those who we call pirates were actually acting in protest of (or in the pay of) one government or another. Today we have Terrorists vs. Freedom Fighters, but back then they had Pirates vs. Privateers. No real difference if you're on the wrong end of things.
    • Well, not exactly. In the new world, the colonial powers couldn't afford to pay for standing navies to enforce their claims and beat up on the enemy of the week. So many pirates were private military contractors, who carried out the bidding of the various powers in exchange for a (large) percentage of whatever they plundered.

      Didn't you ever play Pirates by Sid Meier? Damn, I was addicted to that game for, like, two years. The best part was having to duel some snotty major over the governor's hot daught
      • So many pirates were private military contractors, who carried out the bidding of the various powers in exchange for a (large) percentage of whatever they plundered.

        For what it's worth, those guys were privateers; they carried letters of marque that were supposed to legitimize what they were doing. Of course, legitimacy depended upon which side you were on ;-)

        -h-
      • >So many pirates were private military contractors,

        These were called "corsaires" *not* pirates!

        Confusing both is like calling a soldier a hitman, technically soldiers are payed murderers like hitmen, but I'm sure that hitmen would feel insulted if you said that they were just soldiers ;-)
    • This guy gets the silly idea that seagoing pirates were not bad guys by doing something called "research". If you'll even read the review it says that Captain Kidd was hired to hunt pirates but due to some political maneuvering and backstabbing he was declared to be a pirate and got in real trouble as a result.

      He also says that certain pirates were just people fed up with the English colonial system, so they decided to live outside its laws. If people who live outside the laws are bad, then what of th

      • This guy gets the silly idea that seagoing pirates were not bad guys by doing something called "research".

        I think that we differ in the definition of the term "bad guy". Just because a person is sanctioned by some government to murder and steal doesn't mean that they are the good guys. Government sanctioned thugs are still thugs.

        Admittedly, both pirates and american revolutionaries were people who wanted to live under their own law. This alone isn't enough of a differentiation until you identify wheth
    • To me, the reviewer doesn't seem to be justifying the pirate's crimes so much as making the point that the institutional injustices of the British Empire at the time were even worse. Call it "defense by charge of hypocrisy," like when we try to justify fileswapping by pointing out how the RIAA's member corporations steal from the public by fixing prices.

      None of which makes the thought of being victimized by a real (historical) pirate any more appealing.

  • On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day...

    The only people who know about Talk Like a Pirate day are those doing research for arcane book reviews. I have never heard of this day, much less celebrated it. I am testing my resolve and not clicking this link. Somehow I don't think it will take much. I don't think my life would be bettered greatly by learning about talk like a pirate day.
  • Juries hand out large awards like this all the time. What typically happens in any lartge civil cases is this:
    1. The defendant promises to appeal
    2. The defendant tells the plaintiff that they won't pay a dime unitl the appeals are over, which could last many years
    3. The plaintiff's attorney knows that the defendant can move assets off-shore, file bankruptcy, etc in an effort to dodge paying the judgement.
    4. The plaintiff and the defendant negotiate a post-judgement settlement, where the plaintiff pays a smaller
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of the greatest mysteries of today is whether a pirate is good or bad.

    When the individual does the stealing, it's is called piracy. When governments do the same thing, its called policing, military intervention, or taxation.
    • Ah, so insightful.

      Of course I don't know of too many bridges built by pirates, or fire departments they fund or many of the thousands of other useful things that governments do. Sure governments and beuracracies are wasteful, and should be held to task for that, but to equate taxation with theft is such simple-minded thinking that it's laughable.

      • No, it's really not. It doesn't matter what a thief does with the money, if he takes it without permission it's theft.

        That's what the government does, under the flimsy justification of a "social contract" that nobody alive today has signed, and which they break regularly and with impugnity.
        No simple-mindedness, the government takes your money by threat of force. They don't even do it equitably, just like a common theif, the more you have, the more they take. The wealthiest half of the US population p
        • Do you think a thief takes effort to steal the same value of goods when they break into a $4M mansion as when they break into a $200/month government housing project? How do you suggest to maintain the budget with a flat tax? The poorest half is literally unable to pick up the difference. Do you know anyone who is going to volunteer to pay taxes if not required by law? I don't, I know I wouldn't. But then we wouldn't have funding for the military to defend us, or for public education, or public health care.
          • How convenient, the *majority* get to decide how much a small *minority* pay in taxes... So basically, they get to vote for expensive programs, then when the bill comes they simply vote for someone else to pay it.

            Ever hear of the tyranny of the majority?
            • uh, wrong. Laws are written by Congress, not the general public. So even if 75% of all people nationally say they want law X, if those 75% are repsented by only 49% of Congress, they still loose. So an even smaller minority than the oppressed wealthy decided who would pay how much. And Congressional reprensentative are most likely all in that wealthy half. There are a number of safety measures in place to protect against the tyranny. they may not always work as designed, of course, but they're always evolvi
              • Not quite, laws are written and passed by *representatives*. A bill can't get through both houses without a majority in each and the approval of the president, or a supermajority. In either case that equates to the support of the majority.
                • but it's a majority of the representatives, not necessarily of the general public. The general public don't actually vote on anything except for who gets to vote for laws and presidents.
                  • and they don't actually get to vote for the president either. But you don't seem to understand what the term "representative" means. Congressmen and Senators are voting *for* their constituency. It's not perfect, but claiming "oh, it's just the representatives voting not the population" is bunk. If the representatives don't vote according to the wishes of the public they're representing they don't get reelected. It's the voting public that tells the representatives how to vote, and if they don't follow t
                    • Gee, I only work on political campaigns year round... I suppose I wouldn't know how they work.

                      But I guess that's what I should expect from someone who doesn't even understand the word representative.
  • Questions for me are, w.r.t. software and music piracy:

    1. Are restrictive copyrights good?
    2. Are patents good?
    3. Is control over free distribution of knowledge, information and deeds by large faceless corporates and non-elected, non-governmental organisations good?
    4. Is the extortionate price of CDs, videos and software good?
    5. Is the exploitation of developing and third-world workers in the production of consumer media goods for the West a good thing?
    6. Is the fact that a large percentage of the pri
    • It all depends on your point of view (producer or consumer) and how wide you want to cast your definition of good and bad. What may be good for a small group of people, may be bad for society as a whole.

      It's also hard to universally condemn piracy, or rather infringement of copyright or patent. For example, there are some very poor nations that violate the patents held by drug makers to make medicine available to their (mostly) poor population.
    • "1. Are restrictive copyrights good?"

      If applied to country music, yes. Anything that hampers the propagation of this is good.

      "2. Are patents good?"

      If it's good enough for Doc Emmet Brown, it is good enough for me.

      "3. Is control over free distribution of knowledge, information and deeds by large faceless corporates and non-elected, non-governmental organisations good?"

      Have you ever had a look at Steve Ballmer? Sometimes a faceless corporation is preferable!

      "4. Is the extortionate price of CDs, vi
  • I hope most of us realize that Pirates of the sea are not the same pirates that copy financial newsletters and illegally distribute them. there is a difference, something the original poster failed to recognize. Just goes to show /. will post the dumbest crap submitted and ignore all my hard work. Maybe I'll run up the skull abnd crossbones and raid their office
  • Here we find the pirate in his native environment, once a proud ocean going species, the modern pirate makes his home in basements and subsides on a diet of instant Raman. Bereft of social skills, the pirate will often take on a female persona in an attempt to trick other males posing as females into online chat room lesbian sex. The best way to rile up a modern pirate is to introduce a real female into its habitat. Crikey, looks like he wet himself.
  • If you are Dutch, then Piet Hein [wikipedia.org] is a national folk hero. If you are Spanish or Portugese then he was a rapacious Dutch pirate stealing colonial income.

    If you're Canadian, then the Brig the Sir John Sherbrooke [chebucto.ns.ca] was a warship, if you were American, a pirate ship. Vice-versa for the Syren.

    As with acts of war [pbs.org] anywhere, perspectives [go.com] can differ [aljazeera.net] even amongst folks supposedly on the same side. [thememoryhole.org]

  • It may not be insightful, it may not be funny, and I'm sure it is not a troll.

    However, we can't let nearly 40 comments in a Pirate item slip by without even one "Arrr matey" comment, can we?
    • However, we can't let nearly 40 comments in a Pirate item slip by without even one "Arrr matey" comment, can we?

      Yes. Yes we can.

    • Same way as we can have 128 comments without even one reference to Captain Harlock -- despite mentioning glamorization of pirates by Disney, attempts to escape the suckage of society, and other closely related stuff.

      And someone said that Slashdot is a nerds site...
  • You book you want to read is "Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates." This book discusses the reality of pirates.

    The reality is that pirates were most often very bad people who murdered and tortured anyone who did not give up without a fight. Some people had no choice of becoming a pirate, facing death. They were executed nontheless when caught. Other people were sanctioned by their government to be pirates; they were called privatees. Most pirates were ex navy men l

  • ..stagger, stagger, crawl, crawl, tumble?

    Or stagger, crawl, tumble, tumble, stagger, crawl?

    5 points to the first one to get the reference.
  • lucky bastard...
  • They forgot Gasparillia day [tampaguide.com]

    Gasparillia Day is an annual party, akin to Mardi Gras, that celebrates when the Tampa Bay area was invaded by pirates. Much debauchery is to be had!

    I have beeds! Show me your Tits!
    Oh.. Sorry...flash back.

  • your use of "on one hand..., while on the other..." sucked. at first i thought you had 3 hands.
  • >>
    Disney campaigns against digital piracy while making a movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean", pushing a theme park ride that celebrates life under the Jolly Roger

    Give me a break... And the studios that create films about horrible murders but are against murdering people are hypocrites too right?

    Dumb.
  • I remember reading this book [amazon.com] long ago. It was published in 1984, actually. Well written; would probably be an interesting read now even for a children's book. You might find it at a local library (send the kid in to get it, don't want to scare all the little kids in that section of the library).

    It tells pretty much the same story about Captain Kidd, through the eyes of his cat. While no one really knows how far Kidd went, there are enough ambiguities to make this at least one possibility. We probably will
  • On one hand, Disney campaigns ... under the Jolly Roger. On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, while on the other hand this fine, upstanding investment company...

    I, for one, welcome our new three-handed pirate overlords.

  • The Curse of Monkey Island" "I want to be a pirate!"
  • I heard something about a Peter Jackson pirate movie that came out on DVD this year. At least I think it is a pirate movie: it features a character named Treebeard.
  • I prefer the term privateer.
  • As anyone who has played the great old C64/Apple-II era game, "Pirates!" knows, the key to making a fortune was to pick your enemies carefully. The Caribbean was divided amongst the British, French, Dutch, and of course, the Spanish with the lion's share of the good stuff. When any of these nations went to war with another, assuming you were on good terms, you could get a letter of marquee, which granted you the right to plunder enemy ships. Of course, to the enemy, you were still a pirate, and bad reput
  • I read this book a while back, and was really impressed by it. It is probably the best book on "the golden age of piracy" I've encountered--much better than Johnson's.. err.. Defoe's.. err.. whoever's.."General History" and vastly more readable than the (admitedly more scholarly) "Under the Black Flag" by David Cordingly.

    "Pirate Hunter" is much more than a biography of Kidd--it is a vivid re-creation of the life and society of European pirates at the turn of the 18th century.

    It also contains food for tho
  • "One of the greatest mysteries of today is whether a pirate is good or bad."

    Give me a break already. Yeah - everyone belives that pirates are /good/. They also belive that bugs can talk, we can shink people, and walk into our closet and go into another dimension. Now if you will excuse me, I have a date with Snow White and I'd hate to keep her waiting.

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