"This is the most authoritative and highly literate account of these pernicious people that I have ever read." -- Patrick O'Brian
Pirates are so much a part of legend that it is easy to forget they actually existed. UNDER THE BLACK FLAG tells their story in a rollicking account of the golden age of piracy that is packed with history, anecdote, and above all adventure. Here are the true stories of such bloodthirsty legends as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, and the fearsome Mary Read. And here are rousing descriptions of what ships pirates sailed, what punishments they exacted, what they really wore, and how they flourished--or perished. From the smoky havoc of shipboard battle to the loneliness of a fugitive's life at sea, this spellbinding narrative vividly brings the brutal world of pirates to life.
The common seaman and the pirate in the age of sail are romantic historical figures who occupy a special place in the popular culture of the modern age. And yet in many ways, these daring men remain little known to us. Like most other poor working people of the past, they left few first-hand accounts of their lives. But their lives are not beyond recovery. In this book, Marcus Rediker uses a huge array of historical sources (court records, diaries, travel accounts, and many others) to reconstruct the social cultural world of the Anglo-American seamen and pirates who sailed the seas in the first half of the eighteenth century. Rediker tours the sailor's North Atlantic, following seamen and their ships along the pulsing routes of trade and into rowdy port towns. He recreates life along the waterfront, where seafaring men from around the world crowded into the sailortown and its brothels, alehouses, street brawls, and city jail. His study explores the natural terror that inevitably shaped the existence of those who plied the forbidding oceans of the globe in small, brittle wooden vessels. It also treats the man-made terror--the harsh discipline, brutal floggings, and grisly hangings--that was a central fact of life at sea. Rediker surveys the commonplaces of the maritime world: the monotonous rounds of daily labor, the negotiations of wage contracts, and the bawdy singing, dancing, and tale telling that were a part of every voyage. He also analyzes the dramatic moments of the sailor's existence, as Jack Tar battled wind and water during a slashing storm, as he stood by his "brother tars" in a mutiny or a stike, and as he risked his neck by joining a band of outlaws beneath the Jolly Roger, the notorious pirate flag. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea focuses upon the seaman's experience in order to illuminate larger historical issues such as the rise of capitalism, the genesis the free wage labor, and the growth of an international working class. These epic themes were intimately bound up with everyday hopes and fears of the common seamen.
Called a definitive account when first published in 1980 and the winner of several book awards, this revised and expanded edition is available now for the first time in paperback. Tyrone G. Martin, the author, was captain of the USS Constitution during the nation's bicentennial celebrations. After decades of research and study, Martin was able to confirm that the innovative diagonal riders which ensured the frigate's long life were present at the ship's launching. He also provides details about the famous ship's participation in battles that have long been ignored or glossed over in official reports. Pictorial battle diagrams are included.
The book not only tells Constitution's complete story, but also presents a picture of life in the U.S. Navy during the nineteenth century--its proud moments as well as its concerns, attitudes, and tensions. Fascinating details are presented on the organization, care, feeding, and disciplining of the crew, and on events that involved such famous names in early American naval history as Edward Preble and Stephen Decatur. Just as previous editions were sought-after as sources of pleasure and information, this new edition will appeal to everyone who enjoys a good sea story and to serious students and sailing ship buffs seeking a reliable reference.
A true tale of high adventure in the South Seas.
The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the Indonesian archipelago. Just two miles long and half a mile wide, it is remote, tranquil, and, these days, largely ignored.
Yet 370 years ago, Run's harvest of nutmeg (a pound of which yielded a 3,200 percent profit by the time it arrived in England) turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and the British Crown. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland but in return was given Manhattan. This led not only to the birth of New York but also to the beginning of the British Empire.
Such a deal was due to the persistence of one man. Nathaniel Courthope and his small band of adventurers were sent to Run in October 1616, and for four years held off the massive Dutch navy. Nathaniel's Nutmeg centers on the remarkable showdown between Courthope and the Dutch Governor General Jan Coen, and the brutal fate of the mariners racing to Run-and the other corners of the globe-to reap the huge profits of the spice trade. Written with the flair of a historical sea novel but based on rigorous research, "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" is a brilliant adventure story by a writer who has been hailed as the "new Bruce Chatwin" ("Mail" on Sunday).