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Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates Paperback – 9 May 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade (9 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297722X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812977226
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON was thirty years old when he began writing Treasure Island. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christina VINE VOICE on 13 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it cover to cover. There are several pages of glossy black & white photos and illustrations. The author's range and grasp of his subject matter is enormous, from piracy in fiction to piracy in Hollywood. Best of all, in my opinion, is the history and meticulously researched subject matter. As an example, Cordingly quotes from the original trial transcripts of Captain Kidd and he writes so sympathetically that one feels almost sorry for the blackguard! Cut-throats who relied heavily on intimdation and menace (hence the skull and crossbones) are dealt with sympathetically and straighforwardly without falling into sentimentality.

The author explains convincly why men - and sometimes women - turned to piracy. He reveals pirates to have had a strange kind of democracy: they voted for their own captain and shared the spoils of piracy between them in a pre-drawn up agreement that would rival any modern day stuffy corporate partnership.

Cordingly exposes the myths, e.g., walking the plank, buried treasure and even provides a fascinating history of the development of coins, the word 'pesos' apparently is directly derived from the Spanish for 'pieces of eight' as is 'escudos'.

A very interesting book if you enjoy history and loved the film, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' (Johnny Depp is closely modelled on Blackbeard). Well-balanced and well-written (apart from an annoying habit of using the word, 'which' instead of, 'that').

The naval & geography narrative is good, too. Cordingly describes the ships, brigantines and sloops lovingly and masterfully.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
UNDER THE BLACK FLAG is the perfect read for anyone who, as a kid, dressed up as a one-eyed pirate and went around waving a cardboard cutlass saying, "Aaargh, speak up bilge rat; where be the treasure?" Or anyone who enters company staff meetings with, "Ahoy tharr, scurvy dogs, shark meat ya'll be." Or, "Are ya feeling lucky, punk?" (Well, perhaps that last is from a more recent era.)
Since he's writing for Western audiences, Author David Cordingly focuses on the pirates, buccaneers, and corsairs of European background, who infested the waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans and the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th centuries. The book's twelve chapters reveal everything you've ever wanted to know about swashbuckling pirates and piracy: the ships, pirate flags, buried treasure, recruitment, plunderings, pirate violence, famous captains (e.g. Kidd, Blackbeard, Morgan, Rackam, Vane, Roberts), women pirates, pirates' women, pirate life on land and sea, marooning, walking the plank, pirate islands and haunts, pirates in the media (books, stage plays, films), pirate trials and executions, wooden legs and, yes, parrots.
Upon finishing UNDER THE BLACK FLAG, I tried to think of a reason not to award five stars, and couldn't. The volume is extensively researched, well organized, written with the popular audience in mind, eminently instructive, and not without humor. Sixteen pages of photographs complement the text. If you're interested in the topic, I can't recommend it too highly. Aaargh!
By the way, what does "shiver me timbers" mean, anyway?
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 May 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a well researched & factual account of the lives & times of pirates. The historical facts throughout, are nicely compared to the popular illusions we all draw when considering pirates in particular, or in general. A romantic life, this was not! Extremely few lived to enjoy the product of their nefarious activities on the high seas. In fact very few avoided coming to a sticky end on the gibbet, or on the deck of their ship. It's clear that the crime of piracy in the late 17th. early 18th. century, rarely paid. The book abounds with details of the principle characters that are both interesting & surprising. Perhaps the difference between two of the most well remembered & recognised pirates, Blackbeard & Captain Kidd, is a good example of the contrasts that are so neatly drawn in this book. Whilst Teach (Blackbeard) went about his business in true pirate fashion; cruelly, ruthlessly, fighting to the death & with no decency or honour. Captain Kidd, was proven guilty of only one murder (he killed one of his own crew in a fit of temper, by hitting him over the head with a heavy wooden bucket) & maintained until his final moments that his conviction for piracy was just a pure misunderstanding. This book is lightweight enough for anyone to enjoy & detailed enough for those wishing to study the subject in some depth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 Aug 2001
Format: Paperback
For anyone looking to acquire a sense of adventure or a history buff looking into this period of the great age of sail - this book is a must. Well researched, well written and hard to put down, it gives you an excellent starting point into this period of history. The characters are facinating and brought to life in this excellent book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 1997
Format: Paperback
This is a pretty thorough book on pirates and piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The risks of either being a pirate or serving as a sailor on a merchantman are discussed, as well as the types of ships that pirates normally sailed in. Accounts are also given of the most famous and most successful pirates. I've read many books on piracy, and this is one of the best. It's very well-written with some excellent illustrations. If you're interested in piracy in this time period, buy this book.
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