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Life Among the Pirates: The Romance and the Reality Paperback – 16 May 1996
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A comprehensive and colourful account of seafaring life. (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)
Readable, wideranging and entertaining (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
Entertaining and popular but also serious in its intent (TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)
Splendidly illuminates the blurred distinctions between pirates, privateers and those who attacked ships in the name of their sovereigns (EVENING STANDARD)
Excellent (TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT)
Cordingly knows all there is to know about his subject (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
There is much to entertain and fascinate in all sections of Cordingly's readable book (GLASGOW HERALD)
* Entertaining, popular but also serious account of pirates and pirate life by the acknowledged expert on the subject.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Cordingly explores the subject with a great deal of aplomb, comparing the myths of piracy and the romanticism of books, films and plays with the harsh realities of the cut throat, piratical activities of the day.
The book makes a good deal of reference to Captain Johnson's revered volume on piratical history and also makes good use of a range of a number of other sources.
This is an accessible book which offers a fascinating insight into the world of the pirates, from the mundane (looking at living quarters and the need for maitaining their ships) to the criminal acts for which they gained notoriety.
Cordingly also gives us brief over views of the lives of some of the most famous and notorious pirates (Blackbeard, Morgan, Black Bart and so on)and works these life stories superbly into the narrative.
A wonderful book and a great companion to the aforementioned volume by Captain Johnson.
"Life among the pirates" is an exhilarating dip into the history of the seas' highwaymen, and highwaywomen, adroitly separating the fiction from the fact and as the subtitle says, the romance from the reality. Cordingly lays bare the skulduggery, the malice, the terror and the opportunism, in unearthing the true pirates.
There is a lot of history and seafaring wherefores to cover. The war with Spain, and France, the fight to claim the American continent, the privateers, buccaneers and corsairs, the difference between sloops, schooners, snows, ships and Royal Navy rated vessels. And whilst Cordingly often skips and races through passages of big history, there's enough to place his story in context. It leaves one enticed and signposted to search for the bigger picture elsewhere.
"Life among the pirates" delights in attacking Hollywood, a la twinkle eyed Errol Flynn, for upping the ante on the romance at the neglect of the depravity and forelorn short lived life of the renegades they ape to depict.
The latest movie incarnation in "Pirates of the Carribean", proves it was a little more well researched with a half glance to Cordingly's account yet it is still mixed with a heady dose of the loveable rogues. So he might be a little more forgiving of this latest blockbuster as there are elements brought to life from the book such as the pirates' island bases, the battle with the British Navy, the executions, and yes that inevitable enviable charm. It can certainly do no harm in promoting this book and the real life behind the screen.
Writers such as Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson and J M Barrie are covered too, as is the contemporary art some of which is illustrated. All told, Cordingly has written an incisive and readable account.
Beware the romance, there are some shocking passages of torture and battle to make even those stern of heart, wince. And lest not forget that pirates are still operating in the seas albeit without the eye patches, wooden legs and shouldered parrots.
It reads beautifully - Cordingly manages to combine a mastery of the subject matter with the execution of a skilled storyteller, and the result is a book I would recommend to anyone interested in learning more about the truth behind the myths.
Neither book's flysheet mentions any "Originally published as" statements, so I think the work was published as LIFE AMONG THE PIRATES (Little, Brown & Co. 1995; reprint by Abacus 2000/2002) in the UK, but for the United States market as UNDER THE BLACK FLAG (Harvest/Harcourt Brace & Co. 1997). Am not exaggerating: Introduction, Chapter Titles, Maps, Illustrations, Appendices, Glossary, and Bibliography are the same - word-perfect. I do feel rather 'slapped in the face' (and with egg on it, too!). Whilst I accept that Amazon are not to blame for this embarrassing échec, I hope Amazon will list my review/comment so that others will not make the same mistake ...!!!
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Most recent customer reviews
this enjoyable navel history book.