Aug 31, 2012
Even though the Real Pirates exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota is closing this weekend, it's still all about pirates. The Children's Theater's production of The Buccaneers starts in September, and it's never too early to start preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th). So here are a couple of books to help you stay in the piratical mood!
Try the rousing, revisionist pirate history Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly. The former head of exhibitions at England's National Maritime Museum has produced an authoritative and definitive account of piracy's "Golden Age." As he explodes many accepted myths (i.e. "walking the plank" is pure fiction), Cordingly replaces them with a truth that is more complex and often bloodier.
Susan Ronald’s The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire is about the foundation of Elizabeth I’s empire, which was built on a carefully choreographed strategy whereby piracy transformed England from an impoverished state on the fringes of Europe into the first building block of an empire that ultimately covered two-fifths of the world.
Searching for the world’s most famous pirate ship, an undersea explorer finds more than he bargained for in Return to Treasure Island and the Search for Captain Kidd by Barry Clifford with Paul Perry. This book weaves together two exciting stories: the saga of Captain William Kidd, one of history’s most baffling and mysterious figures, and Barry Clifford’s obsessive quest to find perhaps the most notorious pirate ship of all time.
For a contemporary look at piracy, check out Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas by John S. Burnett. Today's breed of pirates are not the colorful cutthroats painted by the history books. Unlike the romantic images from yesteryear, they can be local seamen looking for a quick score, highly trained guerrillas, rogue military units, or former seafarers recruited by sophisticated crime organizations. Burnett probes this dangerous world of thievery and mayhem and tells an epic, breathtaking modern tale of the sea.
Feel like a little piratical fiction? Check out The Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton, who writes wildly adventurous novels perfect for the beach. A complete manuscript discovered after Crichton’s death in 2008, this irresistible tale of swashbuckling pirates in the New World offers a classic story of treasure and betrayal. Or try Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson for one of the greatest swashbuckling stories ever told. Masterfully crafted, this beloved classic is a stunning yarn of piracy on the fiery tropic seas.