Title: The Golden Age of Piracy:
The Truth Behind Pirate Myths
Benerson Little
Genre: History
Pages: 307
Rating: 4 of 5

Don’t read this book if you are the kind of person who gets angry when someone takes the wind out of a great story with cold, hard facts. This book mostly seeks to describe what the average pirate was like during the golden age of piracy (~1655-1725), and in the process it systematically destroys the image of bad-but-misunderstood-and-noble-at-heart swashbuckling heroes.

The author makes heavy use of primary sources to describe what various typical pirate activities (seizing a ship, attacking a town, fighting a duel, practicing democracy, dealing with slaves, etc.) actually looked like. He also describes rarer, more dramatic events that served as the basis of how most Literary/Hollywood pirates behave.

Sometimes he uses typical history book explanations and sometimes he reconstructs and retells events in more dramatic fashion (with quite a bit of “might have” “could have” “must have” speculation). Occasionally he is repetitive (a danger in any topically arranged history) and  tends to take the least dramatic interpretation of almost every event, but overall this is an excellent, informative book that that seeks to draw its views out of the primary sources rather than reading a pet theory into them.

6 thoughts on “But did they say “ARRRR!”?

  1. Oh this looks great! I won’t deny that I love a good pirate tale every now and then, but fiction is fiction and I don’t mind authors romanticizing the pirate life and throwing in a bit of fantasy – that’s what makes those stories fun. But I like nonfiction about pirates too, and own several books on pirate history, and I also like visiting maritime museums with pirate exhibits to learn more about the cold hard facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Long John Silver, Captain Blood, and Jack Sparrow are a lot of fun, but so is history… well, “fun” might not be the best word for murderous, raping, slaving brigands, so we’ll go with “interesting.”


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