cover image The Golden Age of Piracy: The Truth Behind Pirate Myths

The Golden Age of Piracy: The Truth Behind Pirate Myths

Benerson Little. Skyhorse, $27.99 (388p) ISBN 978-1-5107-1302-4

Little (Fortune’s Whelp), a former Navy SEAL, takes the wind out of many a pirate’s sail in this charming examination of the many myths surrounding the seafaring rogues. The popular image of the iconic eyepatch-wearing pirate, who sports a peg leg and closely guard the whereabouts of his massive cache of gold doubloons, is patently false, Little writes. There’s zero evidence of any buccaneer wearing an eye patch, a peg leg at sea would be wildly problematic, and pirates were remarkably democratic in their sharing of spoils: each man immediately received a fair division as soon as the smoke cleared, and most blew it on overpriced clothes, rum, and women at the earliest opportunity. Weaving tales of actual battles and skirmishes with scholarly insight, Little ably paints a much more believable portrait of his subject than the ones in books by Robert Louis Stevenson and James Fenimore Cooper or movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean. Little has a deep affection for his subject that occasionally leads him to affectation, but his use of piratical jargon is more charming than jarring; clearly he’s having a good time, and so will readers. Packed with insight and adventure, Little’s book is sure to strike a note with armchair swashbucklers of all ages. (Nov.)