- Examines the lives, legends and legacies of 11 of history’s most famous pirates, including Blackbeard, Francis Drake, Captain Kidd, Captain Morgan, Grace O’Malley, Black Bart, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Henry Every and Howell Davis.
- Explains how the myths and legends of pirates, like Blackbeard, created the instantly recognizable pirate stereotypes of today.
- Includes contemporary accounts of the pirates written by Captain Charles Johnson.
The people who have lived outside the boundaries of normal societies and refused to play by the rules have long fascinated the world, and nowhere is this more evident than the continuing interest in the pirates of centuries past. As the subjects of books, movies, and even theme park rides, people continue to let their imaginations go when it comes to pirates, with buried treasure, parrots, and walking the plank all ingrained in pop culture’s perception of them.
While there is no question that the myths and legends surrounding history’s most famous pirates are colorful, in some instances their actual lives made for even better stories. Before the golden age of piracy, men and women like Sir Francis Drake and Grace O’Malley straddled the line between pirate and privateer, with Drake being knighted for fighting the Spanish and O’Malley representing many things to the Irish, including queen, legend, pirate, and folk hero.
While Captain Morgan’s ruthless piracy has actually been forgotten due to his association with the spiced rum company using his name, Captain William Kidd insisted he wasn’t a pirate at all, and his entire reputation is based on the most notorious trial in the history of piracy.
“The golden age of piracy” generally refers to the era when history’s most famous pirates roamed the seas of the West Indies from 1670-1720.