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Pirates Of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean [Paperback]

Adrian Tinniswood
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2011

From the coast of Southern Europe to Morocco and the Ottoman states of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, Christian and Muslim seafarers met in bustling ports to swap religions, to battle and to trade goods and sales - raiding as far as Ireland and Iceland in search of their human currency.Studying the origins of these men, their culture and practices, Adrian Tinniswood expertly recreates the twilight world of the corsairs and uncovers a truly remarkable clash of civilisations

Drawing on a wealth of material, from furious royal proclamations to the private letters of pirates and their victims, as well as recent Islamic accounts, Pirates of Barbary provides a new perspectives of the corsairs and a fascinating insight into what it meant to sacrifice all you have for a life so violent, so uncertain and so alien that it sets you apart from the rest of mankind.


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Pirates Of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean + White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa's One Million European Slaves
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099523868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099523864
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Tinniswood's absorbing book is packed with bad characters, big fights and breathless chases" (Peter Lewis Daily Mail)

"Tinniswood narrates this story with brio and bravura, displaying an excellent eye for the theatrical detail and juicy episode" (Maria Fusaro BBC History Magazine)

"Adrian Tinniswood is a masterly writer of history with a gift for slamming his readers into the thick of the action" (Jason Goodwin Literary Review)

"This rollicking book unpicks a confusion of names, dates and places to produce a fascinating history of seabourne conflict." (Christopher Howse Telegraph Review)

"This exciting book proves that such obscurity is both surprising and undeserved" (James McConnachie The Times)

Book Description

The incredible, action-packed secret history of Barbary Coast piracy in the 17th century, by the author of the acclaimed The Verneys

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Well written, well researched - and a huge amount of fun. Pirates of Barbary is filled with colourful historical detail, charismatic anti-heroes and a pointed, but not over done, resonance between the Pirates of Barbary then and now. Absolutely loved it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can never have enough pirate books 12 April 2010
By Sheenagh Pugh VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought I had enough pirate books, till I saw this one specifically dealing with the Barbary pirates of Algiers, Tripoli etc. It's well researched and scholarly but also written in a delightfully lively style - see this sardonic little piece on everyone's dream job - not...:

"The governorship of Tangier was not a passport to success. The Earl of Peterborough was recalled to England after 11 months, amidst allegations of corruption and incompetence. His successor, the Earl of Teviot, managed a year in office before being killed in a Moorish ambush. During a bout of diarrhoea the Earl of Middleton, who took up office in 1668, got up in the middle of the night, fell over his sleeping manservant and broke his arm; he died two days later. The Earl of Inchiquin was recalled in disgrace after allowing the Moors to overrun the outer defences, though he managed to calm the King's anger by giving him a pair of ostriches. The Earl of Ossory fell into a fit of depression on hearing of his appointment as governor and succumbed to a fever before he could even leave England."

Always keep a pair of ostriches handy. This book is full of unforgettable characters, rich historical ironies, absorbing personal stories and just sheer style, both Tinniswood's and that of his (anti-)heroes. Did you know Samuel Pepys, at very short notice, was ordered to go to Tangier to help supervise its evacuation and destruction? Or that the French mortar-bombed Algiers, in the teeth of a threat, which was carried out, to blow an elderly French priest from a cannon? My own favourite is the harassed Thomas Baker, neglected but kindly English consul in Tripoli, but he's only one in a bewildering tapestry, at a time and cosmopolitan place where people called Hassan Rais, who made a living by importing Christian slaves, frequently turned out to be someone called Rowley from Bristol. You can never have enough pirate books.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Fun 18 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover
Having enjoyed Adrian Tinniswood's The Verneys so much I thought I'd read this too. And I'm glad I did. Pirates of Barbary is written in pacey, well defined chapters - charting different eras, themes and episodes.
This book is a must for anyone interested in the 17th century and maritime history, albeit one doesn't need to be solely interested in such things to enjoy the benefits of this book.
Adrian Tinniswood is slowly but surely creating a canon of scholarly but popular history books on the 17th century. Although I still think The Verneys is his best book, Pirates of Barbary is comfortably the most fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read 27 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Pirates of Barbary is a most entertaining book that describes the history of the barbary pirates / corsairs from the early 17th century onwards. What amazed me is that apparently a lot of the pirates of barbary were European imports, be it converted to islam or not. All too many an Ali Reis had his roots in Cornwall rather than Morocco or in Holland rather than Algeria, and reportedly this import was a great boost to piracy as these renegades expanded local capabilities from the original galleon basis to sailing ships. This enabled the barbary corsairs to raid all the way to the North Sea. As the 17th century progressed, and especially into the 18th, the relationship between the barbary states and Europe evolved into a more formal arrangement whereby the Europeans paid tribute, sparing their subjects from the horrors of captivity or worse. Only after the Napoleonic wars did the Europeans (egged on by the young USA) finally get around to squashing the pirates in their home bases. As I said, an entertaining book and very educational too - recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor, badly written 26 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All the facts seem to be there but there's a lack of passion about this book with is faintly disconcerting, almost as if the writer was doing a task he had no enthusiasm for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written and very enjoyable 28 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Edited in hard, I recommend this book to anyone interested in history of piracy, especially to those wanting to know facts about piracy based in north Africa in the XVII century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Vikings from the South 19 Jun 2014
By Grr
Format:Kindle Edition
Unlike the Vikings, a few hundred years before, the Barbary pirates did not settle where they raided. But certainly they pillaged and took slaves, and they had the opportunity to prey on commercial shipping which previously did not exist on any great scale. This book is a history of their activities during their heyday in the 17th century and the efforts by European countries (mainly English) to contain them.

And it is a very accessible history, not dry and academic. It is obviously written for a popular audience, but certainly not at the expense of compromising the integrity of its facts. The author has obviously done considerable research of original sources, and his organisation and presentation of it is exemplary. He writes well, and is fair to all parties, without letting moral indignation get in the way.

The final coda on the end of the Barbary pirates in the 19th century is well judged and rounds off a satisfying and enjoyable read. Perhaps the European powers would have dealt with it earlier if they hadn’t themselves been so mired in slavery themselves. They proceeded to colonise them, but isn’t that why the Ottomans were there in the first place?
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