Cawthorne' History of Pirates, although not academically rigorous, is approached in a somewhat systematic fashion and provides an interesting, readable description of a unique chapter in history. Rather than compose a treatise on particular pirates and their idiosyncrasies, Cawthorne describes the prate era, roughly 1780 - 1830, with a wide brush. The author explores the global political situation of the times, the constant warfare between Britain, France and Spain, the booming colonial expansion, and the role pirates played in shaping the New World. In addition, Cawthorne depicts a pirate's life aboard ship and the unique social structure which accompanies life on the high seas. If I could make a suggestion, Cawthorne could have spent more time on his chapters on weapons and ships. The work in these segments was marginal at best and seems out of place wedged between sections on "the richest and wickedest city in the new world," and life aboard ships. Nevertheless, I found History of Pirates an interesting and insightful beginning to a more in depth understanding of the Caribbean pirates, but this work would not be a one volume history of the subject.