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Pirates: A History of the Most Notorious 17th Century Pirates

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  787 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Captain Misson, Mary Read, Anne Bonney, Captain Avery, Captain Tew, Captain Rackham...Pirates is a comprehensive history of the life and crimes of these and many other notorious 17th Century pirates, detailing their philosophies and codes, voyages, battles, treasures, trials and bloody deaths. Here are the pioneers of liberty and autocracy whose c ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Creation Books (first published January 18th 1724)
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Becky Yes they are. They are drawn from the original editions of Captain Johnson's books and from other contemporary sources and add a lot to the brilliance…moreYes they are. They are drawn from the original editions of Captain Johnson's books and from other contemporary sources and add a lot to the brilliance of this book. (less)
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Tal Good
Jan 05, 2015 Tal Good rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book written by a sea captain about pirates and other sea captains during the time when pirates reigned. This book is essential for anyone who has more than a passing interest in the history of pirates. Johnson by no means appraises the deeds of these outlaws. As a sea captain himself, he is entirely against them and seems to be astounded by the public's interest of these outlaws. Due to the success of his book in 1724, he found himself writing more stories about pirates than he had previously ...more
Noel Coughlan
Feb 23, 2016 Noel Coughlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
This book, originally published in 1724, recounts the misadventures of several famous pirates including Blackbeard, Ann Bonnet, and Black Bart. Actually, Blackbeard, despite his fearsome reputation, came across as less bloodthirsty than for example Captain Spriggs or Captain Roche.

There is some debate as to who wrote the book. Some cite Daniel Defoe as the possible author. I'll stick the guy named on the title page. :)

Many of the stories are fascinating. The book contains incredible detail, incl
Aug 01, 2013 Flavia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Noi spogliamo i ricchi con la sola protezione del nostro coraggio." E di coraggio ne hanno parecchio questi pirati. Non temono nulla. Navigano mari in tempesta, mari infiniti, e non risparmiano nessuno. Chiunque abbia la sfortuna di imbattersi in questi diavoli è spacciato. E tra le gesta del potente Barbanera, gli ideali di libertà del capitano Misson, le vite e gli animi turbolenti delle donne corsaro e le atrocità del capitano Low, veniamo trasportati in un'epoca e in un mondo che, purtroppo ...more
Mateus Rocha
Dec 27, 2009 Mateus Rocha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have read.

Curious thing, when I was in high school I hated everything about the Colonial Era, but now I'm just passionate about it. And man, pirates are so cool. This book gives you an idea of how was things like in that time. Golden Age of Piracy/Exploration.

So much useful information, specially for someone from Brazil, a colony of Europe. It was very interesting to read some letters from pirates describing how our coastline were...

It gives you an idead of the day-to-day
Joel Mitchell
Jan 16, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Defoe (or whoever the author is...the book is pseudonymous) reports, embellishes, and occasionally invents the lives of 35 of the most notorious pirates from the "golden age of piracy" in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The entertainment value and coherence of the stories varies throughout the book. Some are described vividly with a lot of attention to detail, some read like a boring police blotter or ship's log, One (Captain Misson) is completely fictitious, and some are interwov ...more
Feb 16, 2016 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, research
This is the book that started it all. Adventure! Swordfights! Pirates! Woodcuts of nekkid ladies! Captain Johnson's book has something for everyone. Is "Charles Johnson" really a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe? No one knows for certain, but most of our pirate tales start here, with this volume that captivated audiences in the 18th Century and hasn't been out of print since.
Luke Schwiebert
As far as 300-year-old books go, this is a darn good read. Looking past the oft-confusing archaic spelling (not the least of which being the use of "pyrate" instead of "pirate"), the odd syntax, the unusual grammar (seemingly EVERY noun is capitalized, and every name - of a person, place, ship, or month - is italicized), the fact of the matter is that this is where the myth of the pirate began, and easy read or no, that makes this book absolutely fascinating. All the most famous - indeed, most n ...more
Colin Flanigan
Apr 20, 2014 Colin Flanigan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the Age of Piracy this book tells each pirates story, from Captains all the way to captives who became pirates. The stories of women pirates Mary Reed and Anne Bonny are particularly interesting. You have to get past the Eighteenth Century language but it is worth reading if you really want a view of how Pirates worked. Each ship elected their own Captain and a second-in-command called a Quartermaster. How many shares of the loot one got was ver regulated. That even these old internat ...more
Feb 21, 2016 Frahorus marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Per ora devo interromperlo, come al solito troppe letture ho tutte insieme, riuscirò mai a evitare ciò?
Elaine Meszaros
"Captain Charles Johnson"

Such a day, rum all out - our company somewhat sober, a damnedd confusion amongst us! Rogues a plotting - great talk of separation. So I looked sharp for a prize - such a day took one, with a great deal of liquor on board; so kept the company hot, damnedd hot, then all things went well again.
- Edward "Blackbeard" Teach

First published in 1724, this book was an instant smash hit. Numerous editions followed, jam packed with lurid tales of murder, robbery, riches beyond me
Raving Redcoat
The writing is rather dry, and the organization is somewhat chaotic. Still, this work remains one of the most important sources for information on piracy. Not for the casual reader, but devoted fans of the "Golden Age of Piracy" will find it rewarding.
Apr 28, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, history, classic
This is the classic and pretty much perfect history of the pirates of the 18th century. A must read for Blacksails fans. Practically nothing is known about 'Captain Charles Johnson' there are no contemporary records of any such person in the Royal Navy at the time and it is generally assumed that the good Captain was probably a pirate himself. This gives the book an added bit of excitement, to my mind. These are near contemporary accounts of the lives of all of the biggest names in piracy at the ...more
Feb 03, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This strikes me as sort of like the Grimm's fairy tale collection, but about pirates, in that each chapter feels more like the summary of a tale than a full story. I imagine even those summaries represent a significant amount of work on the author's part, so I don't mean this as a slight, just that I always wished for more detail.

That said, this book is one of our main sources of information about classical European pirates, and I muchly enjoyed reading about Blackbeard, Black Bart, Captain Kidd
Royce Ratterman
Jan 14, 2016 Royce Ratterman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring.
A good book for the researcher and enthusiast.
May 07, 2015 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this at least 5 times, probably the best pirate book around
Nov 02, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and very through.
A rather life-changing book for me. After I watched Muppets Treasure Island for the first time, I knew that I had to know everything about pirates. "Learn something about everything, and everything about something" as they say. Well, pirates are my everything, and this was the first book that I got my hands on. It helped further my burgeoning obsession by giving me a basis for my knowledge. Part lore, part fact, you cant help but be absorbed by it.
Robert Pirkola
Dec 08, 2014 Robert Pirkola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Rick Brindle
Aug 07, 2013 Rick Brindle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pirates, history
Written nearly 300 years ago, this book was always going to be difficult to read and understand. But hey, if you're into your pirates, that's not why we're here, right? This is a book that tells it like it was back then, and if it's not all easy to work out, you still get the feel for the times, and what really happened back then. Not the same as the films, but then what is? A short life, but a merry one, or maybe too short to be merry at all?
Nicola Sheridan
Jul 03, 2012 Nicola Sheridan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In one word, this book was cool.

If you're into history, then this book with its antiquated language and fabulous descriptions is a MUST. The copying of the original is dodgy in places,with the ends of some words missing - which is shame, but all up this is a 'meaty' read and one well worth your effort. If you want to read about the real pirates of the Americas by an author who lived in the day, give this a go. You'll be better off for it.
Charlie Kaufman
Aug 09, 2013 Charlie Kaufman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of pirates, history, naval adventures, etc...

This book gives a rundown of the most famous pirates in the "golden age", Roberts, Blackbeard, Calico Jack, are all given their due.

However, this is not a light read. It is olde English and in naval speak to boot. Sometimes it takes several tries to deduce what the author is saying.

Sit down with a grog of rum and enjoy!
Mar 23, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maritime-history
Attributed to Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame, A General History of Pyrates is the go-to book used by many authors of pirate lore. Written for an English audience in 1724 at the end of the golden age of piracy. It has the ring of authenticity of someone well-acquainted with pirates. It is not regarded as being altogether truthful. The author is the Suetonius of English pirates.
Ben Dial
I love me some pirate books. This is the most used source for most historical books about pirates. This is a good book worth reading. That said, there are more comprehensive books out there. This book has a more traditional version of pirates with tales of rum and treasure and hoisting the black flag. The tales are more narrative than expository, but it makes for an interesting read.
Dec 20, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Such a Day, Rum all out. Our Company somewhat sober:--A Damned Confusion amongst us!--Rogues a plotting--great Talk of Separation. So I looked sharp for a Prize;--such a Day took one, with a great deal of Liquor on Board, so kept the Company hot, damned hot, then all things went well again."
--Thus quoth Captain Teach. I like the management strategy.
Jun 26, 2012 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They used to attribute this to Daniel Defoe but I agree with the current thought - there was a Captain Charles Johnson out there who knew these pirates. The Bahamas were a breeding ground for pirates at one time who got tired of being privateers who only plundered the Spanish fleet. Fun romp with the original Pirates of the Caribbean!
Janastasia Whydra
When you are either reading the original, or a copy that uses the original dialect, it can be difficult because language and speech has changed over the past couple of centuries, but if you're just getting into the pirate genre or looking for a new pirate's tale outside of Captain Jack Sparrow than I would recommend this.
Nov 24, 2011 Olivia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well researched and easily digestible book that does exactly what it says on the package. It is broken down into individual biographies that may as well be fiction they are so strange in places. Many of the people's lives overlap in unexpected ways. This is how popular history should be written.
Rich Hoffman
Sep 07, 2012 Rich Hoffman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time treasures. I simply love this book. I put my hand upon it every night before I go to bed because it resonates history and the tendency of rebellion to push back against the lords of Europe as soon as time and distance makes such things possible.
Apr 26, 2009 Nasrin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got a lot of information about pirates and especially about Libertalia, the Pirate Republic in Madagascar. That again gave me the idea to write my the book "Die Piraten von Libertalia" which was published in Germany in February 2009 by Bloomsbury.
Aug 26, 2012 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very brief bios of pirates from rhe 17th and 18th century. Each bio should have been longer with much mores descriptions of personalities and adventures. Glad I read the book but wanted mores from the author who claimed to also be a pirate
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Captain Charles Johnson, the author of the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, has not been identified.

It has often been assumed that the name Captain Charles Johnson was a pseudonym, but nothing definitive has been determined about who he may have been. For a period of nearly fifty years, the prevailing theory was that the author's true identit
More about Charles Johnson...

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