Colin Woodard has authored a wonderful history of the pirates of the Caribbean in their heyday, with the prime years being 1715-1725. The lives of Jack Sparrow and Long John Silver fascinate us; the real pirates, as depicted by Woodard, are perhaps even more interesting.
He tells the story of the "pirate republic," headquartered in the Bahamas. He uses the term "republic" purposefully. He contends that (and this appears to me to be hyperbole) the pirates fueled (page 1) ". . .the democratic sentiments that would later drive the American revolution." Some fascinating tidbits related to this thesis: pirates shared their spoils relatively equally; rank-and-file pirates elected and deposed ships' captains; decisions were often made in what Woodard calls "open councils"; runaway slaves sometimes came aboard as pirates and were often treated as equals by their fellow pirates. As Woodard notes (page 4): "The pirate gangs of the Bahamas were enormously successful. At their zenith they succeeded in severing Britain, France, and Spain from their New World empires, cutting off trade routes. . . ."
The primary figures covered in this book are three pirate leaders, Samuel ("Black Sam") Bellamy, Edward ("Blackbeard") Thatch, and Charles Vane. Of course, many others are mentioned as well, including "Calico Jack" Rackham, Benjamin Hornigold, Josiah Burgess, Henry Jennings, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. The fourth primary character is the man who devoted himself to destroying the pirate republic--Woodes Rogers. The book tells the story of the pirates and their depredations. It also tells the story of Rogers, who made it his aim to destroy those pirates.
All in all, a rip roaring volume. The book tells of the poor living conditions in ships, the collaboration of some political leaders with the pirates, the role of the pirates in American waters, and so on. Basically, this is a nice volume to introduce one to the real Caribbean pirates, not just the film versions thereof.