A Pirate’s Life in the Golden Age of Piracy (Review)

A Pirate’s Life in the Golden Age of Piracy (Review)

y friend Brian loaned me this one, a book about the history of piracy over the golden age (1600’s, mostly). I went into it with my engine room set to dubious speed – author Robert Jacob notes in his opener that he isn’t really a historian in any way. He is just into pirates (his author picture shows him in pirate cosplay garb). So, I figured, let’s see about pirates.

I’ll give him this – he did a very competent and thorough job. He works his way from 1640 onward, following each captain as he plunders and blunders about, picking off shipping and towns with the meager excuses afforded by a Letter of Marque. And there were a lot of pirates – the book runs just over 450 pages and is as weighty as a phone book. It’s very complete. It has the high points and low points as war continually flairs up and pirates move from the Caribbean to Africa to India and the North American seaboard. In fact, it was so complete that I finally suffered pirate burnout and had to stop (Brian reported this problem as well). Yes, Robert Jacob knows his buccaneer shit and does a good job putting it all to paper.

I’ll admit that it was one of the few “history” novels where the author would weigh in with his opinions to this degree – it something just was not known, the author would pop in his theory and go with that. Again, remembering that the author is clear that he is not a historian, this book is more like talking about the Yankee’s with a fan in a bar, not the team statistician. So it’s more colorful, sure, but also heavy on opinions. And there is good and bad with that.

Of course, with myself being a law ‘n order ivory tower sort of guy, I have my own thoughts about glorifying cutthroats and murderers, which I outlined here. One must wonder how one would react to a book about a golden age of modern Somali pirates – just saying.

But anyway, it’s a commendable effort from a guy who knows his stuff and has filled a very sizable book with it. If you like pirates, you might want to look online for this one. It’s big and meaty  (just like a pirate) and will give you hours of sea yarns.