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The History of Pirates
by Angus Konstam

The History of Pirates is a well organized primer on pirates from ancient times to the present day.

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What Readers
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“S.R. Staley transports you back to a time when the flapping of canvas, the roar of ships' cannons, and the flash of cutlasses are seen through the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The Pirate of Panther Bay, the young Isabella, prowls the seas. She is dogged by a Spanish man-o-war commanded by a dashing young Spaniard who also commands her heart. A great adventure romance!”
-- Robert, Chapel Hill, NC


Book Review

The History of Pirates
by Angus Konstam

4 stars!
The History of Pirates is a well organized primer on pirates from ancient times to the present day.



In Brief...

We liked:
  • Easy to read
  • Well organized
  • Well researched
  • Large number of topics—pirates, pirate hunters, pirate bases
  • Timelines of pirates and pirating
  • Focus on world regions


Things we weren’t so keen on:
  • Compressed space limits in-depth stories



Our Review


The History of Pirates is a well organized primer on pirates from ancient times to the present day. The author, Angus Konstam, is the former curator of Arms and Amour at the Tower of London and now chief curator at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. His expertise shows.

The History of Pirates is a global survey of pirates, pirating, pirate ways, and pirate from the Greeks to modern day drug smuggling. We found its sweeping perspective refreshing as well as enlightening. Want to know how pirates prowled the waters in Roman times? Chapter One delves into the details. Want to know how pirates ply their trade now? Chapter Eleven will give you an excellent overview.

Konstam’s book, unlike many other histories, is organized by region. This has the advantage of giving readers a truly worldview of pirating. While Caribbean piracy gets, in effect, three chapters, Konstam doesn’t neglect the Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, or China and the Far East.

Readers will also be treated to a skillful bevy of pirate biographies. We counted at least 25 full pirate bios, ranging from Uluj Ali on the Barbary Coast (North Africa) to Bartholemew Roberts to Jean Laffite (remember New Orleans?) and Shap-‘ng-Tsai in Hong Kong.

Pirate hunters are not ignored either. We particularly enjoyed the story of Pompey the Great who commanded 120,000 Roman troops and 500 ships to clear the entire Mediterranean Sea of pirates in 67 BC. He accomplished his goal in a mere 40 days.

Providing glimpses into every detail of this book would be impossible, but its rich array of maps, pictures, ship cut-aways, and images from the times provides an entertaining and accessible resource. There is enough information and breadth in this book to justify its place in the library of any serious pirate enthusiast.


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