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on 5 August 2014
Woodard states in his introduction that he intends to paint a picture of the Golden Age of Piracy, the early portion of the 18th Century, by focussing on four key figures: Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch (or Teach, or Thache...), Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, and their nemesis, a prominent Bristol merchant's son-turned-pirate hunter, Woodes Rogers. That's exactly the book he produces, weaving four biographies together to explain the circumstances that allowed the Golden Age to begin, and that would eventually lead to its end. Woodard draws heavily on contemporary sources like court records, ships' logs, a Boston newspaper, and bits and pieces from "A General History of the Pyrates", published in the early 1700s, though he frequently stresses that much within that book was apparently historically inaccurate when compared to his other, more legalistic sources.

For the most part, Woodard is pretty engaging, and does a good job integrating those historical facts into a larger narrative that paints a thorough picture of the era. Occasionally he seems to get a bit carried away, leading to speculative sections that - while clearly noted as such - feel a little reaching. At most, though, that's a minor quibble.

I was more disappointed with the relatively abrupt end to the book. Unfortunately, in setting out to follow the four men mentioned above, Woodard runs out of steam and detail when they are, for various reasons, taken out of the picture. Bartholemew Roberts, described as taking over 400 ships, barely gets a mention. The female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny also get very little material, despite records of their incarceration. Perhaps it's just that there was not enough historical data for him to draw together an interesting narrative. The only other negative point is that sometimes, in the flurry of names being thrown around and the way the book jumps between multiple perspectives (not to mention the ever-changing allegiances of the various pirate groups), it's easy to lose track of some of the less important players.

I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in the Caribbean pirates or the era in general, as it also gives a remarkable insight into the slave trade, European wars and rivalries of the time, and early colonies in the Americas.
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on 23 June 2017
Very interesting and readable. Would recommend
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on 21 July 2017
Best Pirate book I ever read, puts a lot of things in perspective and very well written
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on 9 April 2017
Brilliant read, anyone that has watched Black Sails on TV has to read this.
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on 8 January 2013
Great!
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on 27 April 2015
really enjoyed this book
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on 4 March 2017
Bought for uni module had quick flick through, looks good so far.
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on 13 December 2014
Fantastic. Looked like new. Arrived in a good time. Couldn't ask for more.
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on 27 August 2015
Good book
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on 17 February 2014
I've always been interested in the stories of famous pirates and thanks to this book I've found out the real stories are much more interesting than the legends. Woodard doesn't focus wholly on them though, he also includes a lot of information on life in early 18th century Britain for context which I found just as interesting, Information seems to be well researched and if there is any doubt Woodard states it.
Overall, not too heavy going, very interesting and exactly what you want when it comes to real pirate stories.
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