Pirates of Barbary
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Pirates of Barbary

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  188 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Pirates of Barbary is an extraordinary record of the European renegades and Islamic sea-rovers who terrorised the Mediterranean and beyond throughout the seventeenth century. From the coast of Southern Europe to Morocco and the Ottoman states of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, Christian and Muslim seafarers met in bustling ports to swap religions, to battle and to trade goods...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 4th 2011 by Vintage Books (first published March 18th 2010)
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Jason Koivu

Okay, so this may not be as wild and fantastical as The Pirates of the Caribbean, but Adrian Tinniswood did a great job bringing this version of swashbuckling history to life.

There are some salacious tales of daring, but Pirates of Barbary goes beyond the expected stereotypes and gives the real story, much of it unpleasant. But it's also more complex than it seems. These pirates were doing more than just plundering the Mediterranean from their North African ports. They we...more
Sheenagh Pugh

I thought I had enough pirate books, till I saw this one specifically dealing with the Barbary pirates of Algiers, Tripoli etc. It's well researched and scholarly but also written in a delightfully lively style - see this sardonic little piece on everyone's dream job - not...:

"The governorship of Tangier was not a passport to success. The Earl of Peterborough was recalled to England after 11 months, amidst allegations of corruption and incompetence. His successor, the Earl of Teviot, managed a...more
Mike Smith
Pirates of Barbary will tell you more than you need, or most likely want, to know about piracy condoned by the Barbary states of North Africa in the 17th century. I liked the book because I'm a nautical-history geek, but you might find it about 50% longer and more detailed than it needs to be.

Like Somalia today, in the 1600s the Algiers, Tunis and other seaports on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa relied on piracy for their economies. The pashas, deys and beys who ruled these countries co...more

3 Stars

The US and most other editions of this book are subtitled ‘Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean’ and that probably gives a more accurate impression of the contents because, for a book titled ‘Pirates of Barbary‘, I really didn’t think there was much of a focus on the actual pirates.

It started off well in the foreword, emphasising the disparity in the way that history and popular culture have portrayed European/American and African pirates. ‘The white West re...more
During history class in school, I first heard of the Barbary Coast and the exploits of a US Navy officer named Stephen Decatur. I always wondered about the Barbary pirates and Adrian Tinniswood has answered my questions in this history. He concentrates on the seventeenth century but covers the history of Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers as centers of piracy from the sixteenth through the early nineteenth century, using anecdotes, personal narratives and other sources to support a narrative that sweeps...more
This is as much a study of international relations as a story of 17th Century piracy. Although Tinniswood provides a surprisingly detailed narrative on some individual corsairs, politicians, captives and military men, it is his examination of the relationship between the corsairs, the Barbary states, and the European powers Tinniswood's book finds its modern relevance. The difficult compromise states must make between principles and pragmatism is clearly evident in Tinniswood's description of ho...more

The "Pirates of Barbary" may not be the stirring tale promised by the book jacket, but still is an interesting enough history of piracy in the Mediterranean in the 17th and 18th Centuries. There were alternating periods of piracy and peace among the Nations of the Mediterranean during these times, with treaties between the North African Barbary States and the European nautical powers being made and broken. Pirate attacks were actually initiated by both sides, and the author identifies and descri...more
The title of this engrossing and well researched history of 17th century piracy is a little misleading due to the nature of piracy during this period. While the author does focus most of his research on the pirate activities of corsairs off the coast of North Africa, this work is really about the economic and military impact of piracy (or privateering depending on whose ships where attacked and who did the attacking). The economic impact of piracy was felt throughout Continental Europe and the B...more
Gerald Sinstadt
The 17th Century neatly bookends the story of piracy in the Mediterranean. For a few decades the protagonists struggle on but in reality by the end of Adrian Tinniswood's rumbustious tale, these pirates - both the semi-legal, government-authorised corsairs and the defiantly independent free lancers - have lost their means of existence. But what an existence it was.

The Barbary coast ports of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli attracted greedy adventurers and devout defenders of one faith or another. They...more
Omar Ali
This book is NOT a systematic history of the Barbary pirates. The chronology is sometimes confusing and there is little attempt to present facts and figures systematically, nor is there much in the way of social or economic analysis.But its a very readable collection of highlights and anecdotes. The focus is on Britain, so don't expect much about the French, Italian or Spanish sides of this saga (all of whom had more experience with Barbary pirates than Britain did, but then, this is a British b...more
This is a thoroughly academic work -- which at times is entertaining. If you are looking for meticulous research and fine writing, then you will enjoy this book. As a lover of history, I learned a great deal, particularly about the slave trade in the 17th and 18th century of white Europeans. No, not white Europeans trading slaves; white Europeans being kidnapped (sometimes by the village-full) and sold. This is a tragic piece of history that you'll never learn about in school, but is no less tra...more
Before I read about this book, I knew almost nothing of the pirates of the Barbary Coast who were the scourge of the Mediterranean in the 1700s, other than that the Marine Hymn refers to shores of Tripoli sand has some relationship to cleaning up the Barbary coast. The author of this book covers the pirates in admirable detail and it becomes clear that these people were as often European as Arabs or other denizens of the Ottoman Empire, though the latter were often the sponsors of the attacks. I...more
While I'm fairly familiar with the.history of Carribian piracy, I knew practically nothing about the institutionalized piracy of the Barbary Coast. A well-researched popular history, this book seems to be a good overview of the subject. I had no idea how vital the Corsairs were to the economies of the various Islamic territories, and the extent to which they were supoorted by the local rulers.

This work also has some very thought-provoking things to say about how these states and corsairs and th...more
An easy to read history on the men who were the Barbary pirates, the politics at the time, the views of the West versus Islam and how the pirates operated.

Two of the many facts I learnt, was how many of the pirates were actually English and that America's first international war was against Tripoli.
Bookworm Amir
A great read!

It might be hard to believe, but this book and piracy, connects a lot of the missing dots of international relations between the Islamic and Christian Worlds.

Many of today's events stem from this conflict.

Many conceptions of pirates today are 'fake' - in a sense they are not Ho HO Ho people who look 100% like Jack Sparrow. Most of them are Muslims.

This being a narrative of a historical book, which makes reading engaging and easy, I would say it is a recommended reading for many pe...more
This book turnt out to be more of a litany of individual experiences rather than an overview of Mediterranean piracy. I would have been fine with many or even a majority of first-hand accounts, but instead of any attempt at a synthesis of experience or a helpful overview of the meaning of all of this, it instead felt like an unending catalogue of piratical doings. Interesting enough, but once I'd had my fill, and seeing none of the higher order analysis that I sought, I quit reading the book abo...more
This was a fun and fast-paced work of popular history. The author uses his sources expertly, but his focus is specifically on Barbary piracy from an English perspective. Other major players, such as the Spanish or Venetians, don't make their voices heard for the most part. He does glean some useful information from whatever Arabic and Turkish sources were available to him in translation.

There were absolutely some flaws with this book, but I could forgive them because it was such a pleasure to re...more
This book is terrific. Tinniswood tells the story of the Barbary pirates from many compelling vantage points -- slaves, pirates, generals, villagers, diplomats, politicians to name a few. The level of scholarship is extremely high, the bibliography staggering, and the prose flowing and engaging. He hints at the relationships between 17th-century commerce, diplomacy and Christian-Muslim relations and the ways they play out now, but never casts the philosophical net to broadly. Dense and compellin...more
Antonio De Cunzo
a fascinating subject, but not a particularly well written book
Not its fault, but not the book I was looking for. There wasn't enough social history for me. This was more about the politics between the various states and the way they used privateering as a way to wage economic war without having to openly declare war on each other. Interesting, and with some biographical info on a few of the key figures but not enough to make me finish it.
The stirring true story of the seventeenth-century pirates of the Mediterranean-the forerunners of today's bandits of the seas-and how their legendary conquests shaped the divisions between Christianity and Islam.

Listen to Pirates of Barbary on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
Jenny Brown
On the one hand this book illuminated a corner of History about which I'd previously known nothing and fit in with a bunch of other books I've read recently that cast new light on the relationship of Europeans with the Islamic world.

On the other, it was written in so dull a style that it was a struggle to keep reading.

This is an okay book which is more of a collection of short stories. It tells the tales of various Pirates, expeditions, counsels and captives of the various Barbary Pirate factions. Some good insights into the pirate states of Tunis, Tangiers, Algiers and Tripoli and the battles they had with European powers.
Sean Mccarrey
This book lacked a certain amount of detail concerning the Arab/Barbary side to this story that I would have liked to hear about. Otherwise, I thought that its ability to place Barbary, their pirates, and slavers, in the broader context of a pre-national Europe was outstanding.
"Pirates of Barbary" was written in a bright tone about a juicy subject. The content could have been better organized, but I appreciate that Tinnis wood chose to mix tight biographies in with the more general political discussion. A fun read.
Roderick Ellem
Very enjoyable history of the Pirates of the Barbary Coast during the 17th Century. Tinniswood is a gifted communicator who imparts a great deal of information while at the same time making it an enjoyable journey.
Enjoyable read with a lot of stuff. Did not flow as well as I would have liked, however Tinniswood brings a lot of things together...including the fact that history appears to repeat, and repeat itself.
The lack of a main character hampered the narrative for me, but the analysis of how religion and piracy intersected was excellent.
Gwenllian Davies
I don't think I will ever tire of this subject. Brilliantly written & easy to digest although it is a hefty book. I will re-read this one.
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Architectural historian, Adrian Tinniswood, has worked as an author, broadcaster, lecturer and educational consultant for nearly 30 years in both Britain and the United States. He is the author of many books published by Mitchell Beazley.
More about Adrian Tinniswood...
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