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?