Buccaneers of the Caribbean: How Piracy Forged an Empire

Jon Latimer, Author Harvard University Press $27.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-674-03403-7
In the 17th century the legalities of privateering were ever in flux. A pirate one day might receive a royal commission the next, becoming a ""privateer"" fighting for the crown; it is these privateers-or in England, buccaneers-that are Latimer's focus. Spain was the juggernaut of the era, but swashbuckling seafarers (as well as continental wars and poor colonial management) contributed to the slow diminishment of its power. Recounted here are numerous tales of sieges and nautical battles, daring escapes and surprising disasters, vicious raids, piratical infighting, violent religious tensions, and the political jockeying of European powers struggling for dominance in the New World. Latimer (Alamein) employs clear, spare prose with an eye for the potent detail to accentuate a story. Readers new to the period may struggle to keep track of the players in this detailed account, preferring a more accessible introduction. However, those familiar with the era or seeking an in-depth treatment will delight in this rich history, drawing on remarkable primary sources to make a readable narrative on the exciting age of the buccaneers. 17 pages of color and b&w illus.; 6 maps.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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