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Jewish Pirates Of The Caribbean: How A Generation Of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out An Empire In The New World In Their Quest For Treasure, Religious Freedom And Revenge

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  532 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
In this lively debut work of history, Edward Kritzler tells the tale of an unlikely group of swashbuckling Jews who ransacked the high seas in the aftermath of the Spanish Inquisition. At the end of the fifteenth century, many Jews had to flee Spain and Portugal. The most adventurous among them took to the seas as freewheeling outlaws. In ships bearing names such as the Pr ...more
Kindle Edition, 354 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,427)
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Barbara
Feb 09, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was so interesting. It tied together for me a lot of pieces of information I had about the experiences of Jews in the New World, (and Amsterdam, England and Spain) from the time of their expulsion through the founding of this country. David Liss, if you haven't read this book, you need to... I was thinking about "Coffee Traders" the whole time I was reading this. Kritzler discovered a couple of new pieces of information through his research... which surprised me; it doesn't occur ...more
Julia
If this history had been a more careful, better sourced, I think I’d have liked it better. If it were historical fiction concentrating on two or three Jewish pirates, instead of talking about people across nationalities, cultures and politics (both religious and national) I’d have liked it better. As it is, it’s a better concept than it is a book. When I was Sunday School, or possibly Hebrew School, as a student many, many years ago, a teacher said that Columbus may have been Jewish but certainl ...more
Robert
Apr 25, 2010 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll start out with some things I liked about this book:

* I learned some interesting parts of history, such as that Jews were banned from Britain by King John, and let back in my Cromwell (unofficially), and Charles II (officially)

* I learned a bit about the spread of sugar, and that for a long time it was a delicacy only affordable to the very rich

* I got some leads on things I'd like to learn more about at some point, such as the history of Jamaica

There was enough to keep me reading through
...more
Joan
Jul 11, 2015 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of Jewish history. Or of piracy.
Recommended to Joan by: Leila Zai
Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me...apparently even if Jewish! A number of Jews who escaped the Inquisition in Spain then Portugal, turned to piracy. Obviously, a primary motive was revenge. These survivors had often seen relations tortured horrendously then put to the auto da fe. They were fleeing an unfriendly Europe (except for Holland) for the American continent. It seems a number of the people who went with Columbus on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were Conversos, a phrase the a ...more
Neil
Nov 03, 2012 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Although I can almost hear the sinews of loosely connected bits of history stretching as I read this account of Jews as pirates and privateers, it was amusing and somewhat believable. After all, it's the victors that write history.... A good read for both pirates and Jews. ;)
Dean Irwin
May 10, 2015 Dean Irwin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly disappointing book, made even worse because there are truly some really intriguing concepts which the books raises but fails to address. However, when one reads a book and finishes thinking that the title and the book are not actually meant for each other it is always a bad sign. Rather than being specifically about Jewish pirates this book is, in actuality, largely based upon evidence which pertains to the Conversos' communities (what used to be referred to the Marrano's). However, ...more
Benjamin
My two word review: Oy vey.

I'm struggling to review this book because I don't know what to complain about first. I think the first thing to note, by way of explaining this book, is how the title and the subtitle are wildly inaccurate: the title promises Jewish pirates in the Caribbean who are out for revenge and freedom of religion. There are maybe less than five examples of Jewish pirates here; and the biggest names are either not pirates or not in the Caribbean. As to what motivated them, it's
...more
Steve Cran
Jun 24, 2014 Steve Cran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the last 10 years or so many stereotypes about Jews are being broken. Most people would never suspect the Jews of having been capable of being pirates. It is only recently that people are coming to terms that Jews have been and continue to be capable of being great warriors.

The history of the Jews in Spain is well known. In 1492 they were given a choice to convert to Catholicism, leave Spain or die. Many Jews converted to Catholicism and a small number of those may have practiced their Judais
...more
Lorri
No, this is not a book about a popular theme park ride, or a book about a series of films originally based on the name of a theme park ride. It is a factual and historical book about pirates of the Caribbean…Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you are looking for a fascinating book detailing the history of Jewish pirates of the Caribbean, then this is the book for you! Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for
...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
May 25, 2010 Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This book is about a small part in the vast history of the Jewish people. This is an incredible book with many fascinating characters their intrigue, exploration and adventure. The author focuses on the Jewish pirates as well as the legitimate Jewish seamen (such as pilots, navigators, etc.) since, let's face it, there is a reason you never heard of Jewish pirates - there weren't that many.
Actually, "legitimate" might not be a good word since at that time many pirates were state sponsored (they
...more
Caitlin
Jul 23, 2012 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating bit of Jewish and Caribbean history I never knew before. We've been amused by piracy for generations, just look to Disney, but this book brings to life what it really meant to be a privateer (a sanctioned pirate) or an illegal pirate (one out for one's own good). The subtitle is a bit misleading, it is not really a story of "swashbuckling," it is more of a history lesson than an adventure story, albeit it is very interesting and entertaining. The main focus of the book is ...more
Susan
Oct 27, 2010 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. Some of them converted to Catholicism to avoid deportation. However, if they continued to practice their former religion, they became particular targets of the Inquisition. The author’s thesis is that part of Columbus’ agenda for his voyages was to find someplace where they could find refuge. The author presents a surprising amount of evidence for his case, especially in the history of Jamaica, which Columbus’ descendants kept free of the Inquisition f ...more
Jim
Mar 26, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had always thought that the New World was discovered and settled by Spanish and Portuguese explorers who were devout Catholics, but I learned that Christopher Columbus, possibly a Sephardic Jew and converso (New Christian), set sail for the New World, August 1, 1492 - the last day before all Spanish Jews were to leave the country or be put to death. I also learned that no Catholic Priests were onboard Columbus' three ships. The crews were made up of Sephardic Jews who professed Christianity du ...more
Catherine
An entertaining and perforce, somewhat speculative, tour through the Golden Age of Caribbean Piracy's Jewish pirates and financiers, and what came before. Some parts of this version of that history are quite fascinating, and I felt like this book shed light on things that I hadn't read elsewhere. The size and economic power of the Jewish community in Jamaica, particularly in Port Royal, was all new to me, for example. At the same time, the author takes his topic so far into the past and in such ...more
Nick
Jan 05, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A great little book intensely focused on the history of the Jewish people (aka the Portuguese - read the book to understand the reference) and their contributions in the New World during the 16th and 17th Centuries. Don't let the title fool you as there is a lot more to this history than just piracy. A challenging subject to research and write about considering the Iberian Jews who were scattered to the winds in 1492's expulsion from Spain, many times hid their heritage and religion in the name ...more
Kayla
Apr 08, 2014 Kayla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, I learned a lot from it, however there was a bit of a sour note. The author promises far more in the introduction than he is actually able to deliver on. This book is pretty much a history of Jewish settlements in the New World, legal and not. There are pirates, and the author does seem to have done what he could to find out about them. In the end however, this is a book with a lot of guesswork, even if it is educated guesswork. The simple fact is that due to the laws of the ...more
Brad
Feb 20, 2014 Brad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title was slightly misleading. Although the major players in the books may be pirates, it didn't focus much on piracy. Despite that, I enjoyed the book, which told about what went on behind the scenes in the era just after the new world was discovered. The story of the characters in the books has largely been left untold. Several adventurous Jews did their best to achieve basic human rights for their people, who had been persecuted in most of the places they settled.

I loved reading about the
...more
Matthue
Nov 25, 2008 Matthue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unexpectedly good, not-cheesy, and severely exciting.
Todd
Sep 10, 2014 Todd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While well-written, certainly not as exciting as the packaging would suggest.

Nevertheless, it's a new presentation of an old story: a group of people are ostracized and forced into lines of work that no one else wants to do and then are further persecuted because they have the audacity to be good at doing this work that no-one else wants to do. Further, a group of people having to make shifting alliances for their security that end up making them publicly hated by all but secretly desired by ma
...more
David
May 30, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. And, to a certain degree, I did. But I didn't enjoy it. It's interesting, if not entertaining, but it's not a terrifically written assessment of history.

My first problem is the title. You pick up a book called Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean and immediately imagine stories of swashbuckling rogues plundering the Spanish Main, swilling rum, and ravaging wenches (or, alternatively, an hysterical and stereotype-laden Mel Brooks movie). Instead, you get the story o
...more
Dan
Feb 08, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a real interesting book that I mostly recommend. Great kernels of information about the founding of Amsterdam's Jewish community, New York's first Jewish settlers, Jewish Brazil, the trips of Vasco Da Gama and Amerigo Vespuci, among others. Particular favorites were the mini-biography of Rabbi Samuel Palache in the middle; the explanation of Cromwell's role in the Jewish return to England; and the population transfer of Tortuga to Jamaica.

Still, there are details of this book that bother
...more
F.C. Etier
Mar 28, 2010 F.C. Etier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pirate and Jewish enthusiasts.
Christopher Columbus and Jean Lafitte were Jewish? You gotta be kiddin' me!

Edward Kritzler, author of The Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, is not kidding. He documents his narrative of exiles searching for a safe harbor with forty-five pages of notes, a four page chronology, and a web site: http://jewishpiratesofthecaribbean.com/ . Sir Neville Noel Ashenheim, Jamacia's first Ambassador to the United States, verifies the genealogy of Columbus while a hand-written letter from Lafitte confirms his
...more
Lani
Mar 20, 2010 Lani rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted this book to be SO AWESOME. I mean, are you kiding me?! I saw it as I was walking out of the bookstore and I ended up going back and buying it without really looking at it. But, come on, clearly this book was going to be amazing!

But then in the car I started reading the foreword/introduction bit, and I was pretty immediately appalled. The book was pretty poorly written, and the premise was just really really weird and crackpot-ish.

My comment to Caryl sums it up pretty well...
"It was ver
...more
Miriam
Mar 19, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's fun to read, but doesn't really live up to its title. While there are some Jewish pirates, more characters are merchants who double as spies. As a history, it is also questionable. It reads more like a book that tries to counter ingrained visions of Jewish character than a rigorous historical look at Jewish involvement in piracy. Kritzler does, however, remind us of the extent to which Jews were involved early in settling the "New World."
Jan
Oct 08, 2015 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The writing style is too sensational, the sentences are not very well formed, and the paragraphs don't cohere very well. The material, however, is so terrific that it makes up for the deficiencies in the writing. Who knew? I want to base some poetry or flash on these stories! As the author himself comments, it would make a great novel. This one stays in my home library.
Fussfehler
I'd say "oy vey!" but these guys were sephardim. A book like this necessarily involves a fair amount of speculation due to the nature of the material. We have no way of knowing how committed individual conversos were to Judaism, and even the most committed of them had to go to some effort to conceal their Judaism in order to escape the Inquisition. To those interested in history of the diaspora, the age of discovery or the golden age of piracy, this will be a fascinating read.

The account here s
...more
Bruce Nordstrom
May 18, 2014 Bruce Nordstrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs.
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I read the title of this book, and I said, "I gotta read this book." I started reading, and I was up late that night, and up early the next morning. Had to finish reading this.

I was fascinated with this book. It covered so many topics I was completely unfamilure with, and left me with a lot of topics to read about in the future.
Kevin
Mar 10, 2014 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were several times while I was reading this that I couldn't help but think, "That doesn't do anything for your narrative. Why am I reading this?" A lot of things seem to be thrown in as an after-thought, in which I was reminded of Monty Python's adage, "And now for something completely different."

The information was good, and interesting when I could follow it. But there were times I got bogged down in minutiae.
Evan
An amateurish, overly-Judeophilic stab at popular history.

To claim that a history book about Jews is overly Jew-centric seems a little unfair and maybe inappropriate, but when it became clear that every Jewish figure in this book was a downtrodden, brow-beaten 'good guy', pirates included, I had to question its intentions, and indeed its academic veracity—Kritzler crossed the line when he went out of his way to morally reconcile his Jewish heroes' involvement in the slave trade, while pages aft
...more
Alex
Apr 12, 2011 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So the Cohen Rodriquez brothers Moses and Abraham were inspired by a Pirate Rabbi that had been a pilot for the Barbary pirate, Barbarossa. They went to Brazil for the sugar trade, started the first synagogue in the New World there until the Inquisition caught up with them. They ended up in the Caribbean Island of Jamaica where they plied their trade skills when Henry Morgan the pirate was governor of Jamaica. And tried to take one of Spain's treasure ships. This book is not a historical novel, ...more
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