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Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,069 Ratings  ·  295 Reviews
He challenged the greatest empire on earth with a ragtag bunch of renegades—and brought it to its knees. Empire of Blue Water is the real story of the pirates of the Caribbean.

Henry Morgan, a twenty-year-old Welshman, crossed the Atlantic in 1655, hell-bent on making his fortune. Over the next three decades, his exploits in the Caribbean in the service of the English becam
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mark Goodwin
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Book seems to have been well researched and gives the reader the feeling of being part of the action. Was Henry Morgan a Noble Patriot or a Blood-Thirsty Pirate?

Certainly his "army" was a breed of outcast with endurance and a thick stream of bravery in their blood. It has to be noted that Morgan knew how to pick his men and how to handle them. Their actions were prompted by greed and the search for wealth and "riches".

What motivated Morgan's pirates is compared to what motivated the Spanish and
Jason Koivu
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Right off the top you should be asking, "5 Stars for a book about pirates, Koivu?" Yeah well I have a thing for stories about randy seaman going after sweet sweet booty, what can I say?

Talty's pen puts a nice flourish on history that's appreciated, but hardly necessary considering his colorful source material. Patriotic Welshman Captain Morgan may not have seen himself as a pirate, after all he was only doing his duty for England, but if you were the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands at the time
Wow. I feel like I've got to take a week off after reading this one. A lot happens, man. (This is one of those books that proves reality is far more incredible than fiction.)I can say nothing more than that this must be the epitome of pirate literature - it may not be pirate Bible, but it's pirate Shakespeare at the very least. Loved it. Henry Morgan is a colossal figure in history, and this book gives him his due. (I read "Cup of Gold" by John Steinbeck about a thousand years ago - also about H ...more
Pirates (or privateers) always make sensational subjects, so author Stephan Talty didn't need much embellishment to make the tale of Henry Morgan into a fast-paced and thrilling book. I've read a handful of other accounts of Morgan and other privateers and found this one of the most successful renderings. And while Morgan cuts a definite dash, Talty doesn't shy from making it clear that it was ruthlessness as well as leadership skills, strategic thinking, and inventiveness that led to his succes ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this book. I was surprised how much I didn't know about pirates, or at least how little is accurately described in popular culture. It really is kind of a war book, mostly full of descriptions of battles and stuff, but they are interesting battles, and it's really impressive to see some of the tactics the pirates used against properly trained armies to defeat them! And I can't get over how political it all was, much more than criminal.

Did you know that many of the pi
Pirates - and Henry Morgan as one of the better known ones, are seldom a boring read, and this fast paced biography is no exception. Pirates (or privateers), military strategy, the 'silver train', the shear brutality of the pirate life - all make fascinating reading with a background of the dominant Spanish, and the English, French, Dutch and Portuguese largely playing second fiddle to them - certainly in the Caribbean and the 'New World' of Central and South America.

This book does well to keep
Melanie Unruh
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book will challenge everything you've learned about pirates from the movies. Real pirates were more brutal, less well-dressed, and drunker than in any movie. They were also utterly profligate, which attributed to their demise as much as the iron fist of any government.

One of the most enlightening aspects of 'Blue Water' has to be the analysis of shocking level of ineptitude with which Spain administered her colonies. Without the (non)contribution of the Spanish, the pirates would have had a
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is rare to find a history book which utilizes a narrative style that so immediate and engrossing as well as inclusive of satisfactory historical and cultural background to make sense of the topic. Talty's prose has the cinematic quality of a good novel that does not hesitate to inform as it entertains. A book worthy of its subject - the lost era of the real pirates of the Caribbean and the formerly shadowy figure of Sir Henry Morgan (is this the rum's namesake?) I cannot recommend this enough ...more
Jenny Karraker
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing

There is a tv commercial in which an elaborately dressed Henry Morgan is drinking among friends at a fancy party-- a serving girl spills a glass of wine and cringes, thinking she will be whipped. But in an act of mercy and perhaps even democratic flair, Morgan pushes over his glass and encourages all his guests to do the same thing. Not knowing anything about Morgan except seeing his name on the Captain Morgan rum billboards, I wanted to discover more about him. I didn't realize he was a real p
Unabridged. Read by John H Mayer.


The term tsunami comes from the Japanese meaning harbor ("tsu", 津) and wave ("nami", 波). [a. Jap. tsunami, tunami, f. tsu harbour + nami waves.—Oxford English Dictionary:]. For the plural, one can either follow ordinary English practice and add an s, or use an invariable plural as in Japanese. Tsunami are common throughout Japanese history; approximately 195 events in Japan have been recorded.


The musket is thought to be the weapon that replaced the arqueb
I took in the audio version of this book, narrated by a gravelly-throated John H. Mayer. He turned the history into a tale that could've been told at the back of a dim sailor's dive, a place packed with rowdy pirates and privateers and buccaneers all whipped from salt and wind, all with scars, some with missing appendages. Havin read a few pirate romances, I knew reality wouldn't paint them in such a swashbuckling, to-die-for light, and sure enough, they were greedy cutthroats who pillaged and p ...more
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about privateer Henry Morgan. This is a very readable tale of Morgan's battle with the Spanish. The author takes time to build the settings, describing places like Port Royal, Panama City, and other places in great detail. He also juxtaposes the lawless Caribbean with political climate in London and Madrid which is very useful for understanding how a pirate like Morgan could have accomplished so much so quickly. While the book is non-fiction, the author has created a fictional pir ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Poor scholarship, boring prose, and pointless invention.

This is the kind of book that gives popular history writing a bad name. He invents an example pirate character, and uses him throughout. This automatically brings his accuracy into question, as he describes the action in various events in a way that obviously does not reflect reality, focusing as it does on someone who was not there because he didn't exist. (the device could work, if it was used only as an example of the typical pirate, bu
This was a great book. It was a fascinating nonfiction book about Port Royal in Jamaica during the 17th century. The true story of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Captain Henry Morgan really had a huge part to play in defeating the Spanish in the New World. The book describes the difference between buccaneers, pirates, and privateers, and also describes how the divisions betweem were often blurred and nonexistent. These men were courageous and tenacious. They were also lawless and uncivilized, ex ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Talty's book tells the story of the flamboyant Henry Morgan and his semi-official privateer war against the Spanish. Morgan continued to raid Spanish targets even after the British and Spanish concluded a peace, which technically made him a pirate, but he escaped the noose by pleading ignorance of the treaty.

Morgan was incredibly ruthless; many pirates worked hard to make their reputation for bloodthirstiness as real and immense as possible; this made it easier to coerce ships and even entire ci
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you ever wondered about pirates in the Caribbean during the late 17th century: who they were, what they did, where were their loyalties and why are they so fictionalized- then this is the book for you. It's not easy read, but it is less difficult to peruse than stolid history occurrence tracts. This follows Captain Henry Morgan's privateer occupation, his contemporaries and methods, and also the earthquake that ended Port Royal's existence as a pirate haven in Jamaica.

Understanding the specif
Tom Schulte
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is very engaging history of the The Brethren, Capt. Henry Morgan's real Pirates of the Caribbean. Along with the drama of a fireship ruse and a city-destroying earthquakes, it is interesting the actuality of buccaneer life. Rather than a criminal navy, they were more like a criminal marine corps: ships were a conveyance to get them to coastal settlements and departure points for laying siege, such as the pivotal struggle for Panama City having marched over 50 miles inland.

While it is not d
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Well written and very interesting.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read for the adventure aficionado and history buff alike, Empire of Blue Water is pop history in its finest form.

Empire of Blue Water tells the story of Captain Henry Morgan, his privateers, and the battle for power in the Caribbean, at which they were placed front and center. In essence, Morgan was a hired gun for the English crown, sent in to secure England's hold in the region. His men were privateers, essentially paid mercenaries who wanted bounty and nothing else (not conquest, fo
LeAnn Morgan
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was well researched. Caption Morgan, the king of the pirates, was actually a privateer (basically a legal pirate). He was a strategic genius, spoke as eloquently as a well written book, loved his rum and from most accounts a faithful husband...but was a ruthless and fearless leader who gained both respect and hatred. Back in London he was up on charges to go to prison but with his wit and charisma ended up knighted and made lieutenant Governor of Jamaica. Love him or hate him he never ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. Interesting, but not fascinating. It was a good way to learn more history about that time period.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Anna by: st
I read Stephen Talty's first novel "Black Irish" last year and was determined to read one of his histories. This one looked too good to pass up -- and he really spins a great yarn!

What is about pirates? Books, movies, games are devoted to them yet they did terrible things.

Talty tells the already incredible story of two empires in great detail with clarity and wit. In this amazing complex multi-layered history, we are introduced to so many people and events, many of which have some fascinating p
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a great book. I was never into pirates per se, but after reading "The Jefferson Key" which dealt with a fictional family that still had a letter marque and were essentially privateers, a phrase I had never heard at the time, it piqued my interest. I found this book by accident and added it to me "to read" list, and there it sat. Until I finished an economic book and decided to change genres (I do this regularly).

The time, 17th Century; the place, Port Royal Jamaica; the man Captain Henry Mo
Rick Brindle
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pirates, history
If you like your pirates (and I certainly do), then this is a book you'll want to read. This tells the story of Henry Morgan, a premier league pirate (if you're Spanish, privateer if you're not). His achievements in the Caribbean were legendary, as he took on the Spanish Empire on a shoestring, succeeding through aggressive tactics, modern weapons, and sometimes luck. Stephen Taly also cleverly introduces a fictional character called Roderick, who tell us what it was like for Morgan's men, most ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As often as Jack Sparrow uttered the word "Pirate" as his explanation for his questionable behavior, I didn't really understand what that meant until reading this book. Talty helps us look past the romanticism of Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp to see what it meant to be a pirate in the Caribbean.

I particularly appreciate the insights into the politics of the time that allowed the pirates to flourish. Talty even talks about the weather and the geology of the area. Tsunami in Jamaica - who knew?

P.H. Solomon
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book a number of years ago but found it an interesting history of piracy. Though it's a non-fiction, the book an almost fictive quality since pirates can jump off the page. Frequently, these true-life tales have the ring of events described in fiction, movies and television shows and for good reason - they are the basis of fiction. This book covers everything from the politics behind piracy to the daily lives of pirates. As a fantasy author, I also find this book to be good source ma ...more
Aaron Cochrill
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book starts out really slow, but in order to understand the global and economic global implications you have to be able to get through this. Recognizing this was a historical review, I plunged through and when I got about halfway it really started to pick up. For those who enjoy military tactics, Morgan showed an affinity for in this area as well. Overall an enjoyable book and full of all sorts of historical sequences.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a historical account of the Pirate Henry Morgan & the pirates part in the events in the Caribbean during the 1600s and the impact they had in breaking the Spanish hold on the area. This book was well written and reads like an adventure novel. I learned a lot about pirates and about this era in history. The destruction of Port Royal, Jamaica, was can't put down reading. Loved this book and highly recommend it!
Feb 24, 2013 rated it liked it
There is nothing here that I don't like -- maritime history? Piracy? Yes! Towards the end, though (as is the case with so many books), Mr. Talty sort of falls into the trap of what feels like padding with an overabundance of military strategy. Not that I'm not interested -- I am! -- but some sections felt sort of irrelevant.
Jimmy Henderson
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have any interest in the pirate life, you'll love the book. It will take you back to the 17th century, and helps to put you'll be able to visualize the scenes and the surroundings. I really enjoyed this book!
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Stephan Talty is the New York Times bestselling author of six acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction, as well as the Abbie Kearney crime novels. Originally from Buffalo, he now lives outside New York City.

Talty began as a widely-published journalist who has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the author of t
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