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The Only Life That Mattered: The Short and Merry Lives of Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Calico Jack Rackam
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The Only Life That Mattered: The Short and Merry Lives of Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Calico Jack Rackam

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  273 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Fed up with an outlaw existence, Calico Jack Rackam swears off the pirate life, until he meets Anne Bonny, a woman who would as soon stab a man as give him a good tumble—that is, unless he's a pirate. Soon Jack finds himself out on the high seas, with Anne by his side and his men spoiling for action.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by McBooks Press (first published 2001)
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Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
DNF..Due to a reprint/different cover/author-fooled me not!

I picked this one up hoping on a different view/story/plot and historical facts and details yet unread by me, about Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Calico Jack. Got all excited here..curled up to read..and about 85 pages in I have the feeling I have read this one before. But how could I? I certainly would remember the cover. The Wench goes to check the copyright..lo'and behold! "this book was previously published in a significantly different
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
Although Grace O'Malley has always been my favorite female pirate, Iv'e also wanted to know more of the other two famous "lady pirates" in the trade, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.Normally I would brush up on the "historical facts" first before I take on a biography of such historical figures than compare it to what the author has written and how she/he has percieved it,but I decided to forgo that first and just plunge in.
ANNE BONNY: A pampered southern belle longs for a life more exciting and danger
Rima Jean
I loved Nelson's Pirate Round books, but this one was a disappointment. While Nelson is a pro at writing maritime fiction, he struggles to develop his characters enough for one to feel close to them. While this is fine for a book that is action-based, it's not ok for a book that depends on its characters to carry it. Nelson doesn't write women well at all -- Anne Bonny and Mary Read are not likeable, and it is difficult to feel anything for them and their experiences. Anne Bonny is an insatiable ...more
Todd Stockslager
Fictional account of the true-life pirates of the subtitle. The brief afterword explains the historicity and references the few primary sources.

Think "Pirates of the Caribbean", the R rated non-Disney version. Sometimes reads like history with a bare frame work of fictionalization, but generally flows well as a story and sounds plausibly like what we think we know a pirate's life was like. Of course the comparison also suggests that the book is more entertaining than fulfilling, and this is true
I picked this book up because of the long standing rumor that Anne Bonny buried treasure on an island in Casco Bay (Maine). It's a story I've related (as legend) so I figured a read about her would give that legend better context. Well nothing was mentioned about the trip North so I guess I'll have to do more research.

This was a very interesting and engaging read. The story of the two most famous female pirates and their VERY different journeys of how they ended up outlaws was very engaging. It'
This is one of the best books i've read in a while. When i found this book on the library shelf, i couldn't wait to start it, and it lived up to all my expectations. The book was based on the lives of the pirate Captain Calico Jack Rackham, and Anne Bonny and Mary Read (the two female pirates on his ship). Based on what i already knew about the lives these three people (and then after reading the historical notes in the back of the book) the story seems very historically accurate. The author did ...more
I really loved these characters and I regret that the story ended, I wish that the author covered their time in prison. Also I almost cried finding out about Mary's past, and I loved Anne's feisty personality. "Calico Jack" was a very interesting character to see into the mind of. I was going cry once more as I got to the end, because I loved every one of them. I actually was inspired to learn more by assassin's creed 4 black flag.
Feb 22, 2014 Jessa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
It feels like I've been waiting my whole life for this book, the awesome and badass and just all-around incredible (and as based on historical fact as possible) life of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, notorious lady pirates who proved women, if so inclined, were just as fierce and awesome as the men.

There's not much more than that I can say. Pirates, historical accuracy, badass women... Love, love, love.

I would say the ONE criticism I have is that the title is pretty awful and makes this sound like
Tom Batalias
This story intrigued me for two reasons. First, I am reading a bunch of pirate history this summer. And two, I love reading James Nelson's history books. His version of the story of Anne Bonney, Mary Read and Calico Jack Rackam was fascinating in that he was able to take all the known historical accounts of their lives (which is not much), and fill in all the rest, to create a interesting story. One of the reasons I love historical fiction is the way a good author can bring people back to life, ...more
Mike Moak
An interesting tale, though too "romance novel" for my taste. I know the limits of historical fiction and did not have a problem with this fictionalized account, but I felt the romantic fancy too off-putting and the lovemaking a bit too graphic for my taste. Otherwise, it wasn't a bad tale about Captain Jack Rackam and his female partners in piracy.
I tend to shy away from historical fiction, but I couldn't resist this one. I have always been fascinated by pirates, and particularly the stories of Ann Bonny and Mary Read. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace, writing, and details about the actual history and research that went into the book.
I love the idea of pirates. In real life I'm sure they were just evil, disgusting and blood-thirsty, but I like to romanticize that there were "gentleman" pirates out there. This book is a great story about two women pirates, based on eye witness accounts. It is a great read for someone like me who loves learning about the lifestyle not only of the pirates, but also of life in general during the 1700s and life on the water at that time. It was well written and captivating. And the best part, whe ...more
Lisa O'Kane
Such a fun book! Not my "normal" type of read, but now I am officially obsessed with pirates.
A good balance against all those romance of the seas because it feels a lot more real.
I absolutely loved it & would recommend it to anyone! It's very entertaining, captured my attention from the first page, and it's extra awesome because it's based on the truth. (Even more so than you would guess as you're reading it, there's a great bit at the end that talks about where the author got his facts from and what he based the characters personalities off of, etc. I wouldn't recommend reading it before you read the book because it gives too much away, but just know that you'll be ...more
Debra Dabell
Good read, based on true stories.
Elise Williams
Though this was a fictionalized account of true-to-life people, I found it to be an inside look at the life of pirates. It was exciting and engrossing, and I couldn't put it down. James Nelson knows boats and his descriptions were understandable and action-packed. I liked his characterizations of all the characters and found them all to be believable. They seemed real to me. This is a MUST READ if you are interested in pirates!
Meh. This was OK, but I don't feel like it brought anything new to the story of Jack Rackham/Anne Bonney/Mary Read. Allowing for speculation, it's accurate enough as far as the historical facts are concerned, but I was expecting more from the author of the Thomas Marlowe Series. Also, in spots the author's prose got pretty dam' purple.
Eric and I are reading this aloud, so I don't read it when he's not here. We're not even halfway through yet; the writing style's pretty corny. The author is nice in person, but he hardly knows how to narrate from a woman's point of view. Or a man's point of view...But it is about pirates (women pirates), after all...entertaining ;)
Gets props for its marine authenticity, and what are we to do for that now that O'Brian's dead? I found it less marine, though, and more focused on the characters, which are presented in a more-favorable light than I think wholly realistic. Nonetheless, it's a entertaining book with a mild but nice flavor of the Caribbean.
Haha...a book for if you like your historical novels as authorially interpreted as possible in order to be as bodice-rippy as possible, and think character depth is for irritating and distracting. I randomly grabbed this off the library shelf and foolishly thought that if I kept reading it might get better.
I really liked this novel! Although at times it leaned a little too heavily towards the 'bodice-ripper' side of the spectrum, it was well-written, interesting in subject, and gave me a great feel for the lives of those 2 infamous female pirates and the man they sailed with.

I'd recommend it!
Kind of a bodice-ripper, but interesting and informative concerning women pirates of the early eighteenth century, which is what I'm after. It's really a fun and engaging read, however, and is pretty close to historically accurate. Fact is sometimes more improbable than fiction!
What a great story about female pirates. I was drawn in by the swordfights, but the innerworkings of the characters minds were great. Definitely worth a read if you like pirates.
Not what I expected it to be. Though, I'm not sure if anyone has written a book about Anne Bonny, Calico Jack and Mary Read with the plot I would prefer, so....
Kiera Sauter
Awesomely swashbuckling adventure tale of Ann Bonny and Marie Reed... Some of the most famous female pirates.... not to mention their swanky friend Calico Jack
Susan Kerlin
Met Mr. Nelson at a Pirate Festival in Key West and bought his book and had him sign it. Very interesting read on histories two famous female pirates.
Julie Sysak
It took me a long time to get into this one. I liked the premise of the story, but wish the character had been developed better.
Pretty entertaining. It's mostly historically accurate, but had a little too much of the romance novel formula in it.
Pirate women. I loved the ending when only the women would fight. Yo ho, yo ho a pirate's life for she.
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James L. Nelson (1962-) is an American historical nautical novelist. He was born in Lewiston, Maine. In 1980, Nelson graduated from Lewiston High School. Nelson attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for two years, and then transferred to UCLA, with the ambition of becoming a film director. Nelson, his wife, Lisa, and their daughter Betsy lived for two years in Steubenville, Ohio, while ...more
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