Pete daPixie's Reviews > Pirates of the British Isles

Pirates of the British Isles by Joel H. Baer
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Dec 18, 2010

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bookshelves: upon-the-briney-deep
Read from December 17 to 18, 2010

'Hold 'ard', 'keep her east', 'shiver me timbers', 'pieces of eight', 'the devil take the consequences' and 'yo ho ho and a bottle of rum'. From Treasure Island to Hollywood, our image of the dogs under the Jolly Roger is one of complete myth.
Joel Baer's 'Pirates of the British Isles', published in 2005, looks mainly at the careers of six Jolly Rogers., Henry Morgan, William Dampier, Henry Every, William Kidd, Edward Thatch (Blackbeard) and Bartholomew Roberts. The setting in each case resides in the late 17th to early 18th centuries and is played out over a very wide range. From the favourite Carribean and Atlantic, to the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
It appears that the English crown had a strong tendency to look the other way when it came to the piracy of it's privateers. From Elizabeth and Hawkins/Drake in the late 16th century, the states ambivalence continued for a further century and a half, much to the annoyance of many European states, Spain,Portugal,France,Holland,Denmark and all the way to the Muslim rulers of India and beyond. Baer's expert study of the legal war against British piracy shows it was only as a result of pressure from the East India Company and the like, who complained of the damage and threat to empire, before Parliament enacted new laws to combat the freebooters. It is very interesting to read of the involvement of principle members of the Whigg government, in the case of Captain Kidd, to realise the legal tightrope these 'pirates' walked, more deadly and real than any mythical plank.

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