Start reading Empire of Blue Water on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Add Audible Narration
Empire of Blue Water Narrated by John H. Mayer $35.93 $8.99
Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

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 [Kindle Edition]

Stephan Talty
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
You Save: $4.01 (25%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Audible Narration

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration with Whispersync for Voice. Add narration for a reduced price of $8.99 when you buy the Kindle book.

Narrative Nonfiction
Discover captivating leaders and go inside pivotal moments in history with these compelling works of nonfiction. Learn more

Book Description

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 became legendary. His daring attacks on the mighty Spanish Empire on land and at sea determined the fates of kings and queens, and his victories helped shape the destiny of the New World.

Morgan gathered disaffected European sailors and soldiers, hard-bitten adventurers, runaway slaves, and vicious cutthroats, and turned them into the most feared army in the Western Hemisphere. Sailing out from the English stronghold of Port Royal, Jamaica, “the wickedest city in the New World,” Morgan and his men terrorized Spanish merchant ships and devastated the cities where great riches in silver, gold, and gems lay waiting. His last raid, a daring assault on the fabled city of Panama, helped break Spain’s hold on the Americas forever.

Awash with bloody battles, political intrigues, natural disaster, and a cast of characters more compelling, bizarre, and memorable than any found in a Hollywood swashbuckler—including the notorious pirate L’Ollonais, the soul-tortured King Philip IV of Spain, and Thomas Modyford, the crafty English governor of Jamaica—Empire of Blue Water brilliantly re-creates the passions and the violence of the age of exploration and empire.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Talty (Mulatto America) entertainingly chronicles the life of legendary privateer Capt. Henry Morgan and his crucial role in challenging Spain's hegemony in the New World in this informative popular history. Seeking his fortune, Welshman Morgan arrived in the Caribbean just as British King Charles II decided to challenge Spain by using pirates "as a stick with which to beat [them]." Morgan accepted a privateer's commission from the British—in effect, a license to steal—and set out in 1661 to make his fortune. Smart and charismatic, Morgan quickly rose to the rank of captain and became "fabulously rich." His attack on the Spanish stronghold at Portobelo "showed the world that the empire was vulnerable," and his raid on the city of Panama—the "greatest raid in the history of buccaneering"—forced "the Spanish to renounce their exclusive rights to the New World." Charles II knighted Morgan and appointed him deputy governor of Jamaica, a position that tasked him—"the greatest of the buccaneers"—with exterminating piracy. Morgan died of the effects of alcohol abuse in 1688 at 53. Talty strips away the legend to recreate a pivotal era in this accessible portrait of the pirates of the Caribbean. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Before he became rum, Cap'n Morgan humbled the Spanish Empire. Part swashbuckling pirate, part aristocratic wannabe Henry Morgan blended his desire for adventure and wealth into an innovative military approach. English greed and rugged individualism could defeat Spanish monarchical bureaucracy. Talty illustrates the lures that drew free spirits from the Old World and into the new. Port Royal, Jamaica, serving as the seventeenth-century's sin city, offered all the vices a young rogue craved, plus the pirate excursions to fund his debaucheries. Talty's well-researched account weaves together myriad political and financial interests in the New World. From the young rogue in search of wealth and a good time to the British monarchy looking for a cheap way to defeat the Spanish (and finding that champion in the young pirate), the pirate's ferocity and depravity became known and feared. Morgan succeeded, where most could not, in straddling dual roles. He stood as the vital force in British military cunning and success, and did so as a feared yet respected pirate. Blair Parsons
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 592 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307236617
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 17, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,552 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knife Into The Underbelly Of Spanish America May 3, 2007
One of the thoughts I took away from this book was how sometimes in order to defeat an enemy, it is necessary to fight him at his own level. Understanding this, England's most pragmatic monarch, Charles II, took the shrewd step of not only employing the regular navy in his conflicts with Spain, but of commissioning pirates to act as privateers, which he then sent out to take the fight directly into the nerve-center of Spain's lucrative Caribbean territories.

Empire of Blue Water---which has a beautiful cover, I might add---is primarily the story of Captain Henry Morgan, 1635-1688, the ultimate embodiment of buccaneer and raider in the great age of sail. Living a life that lends credence to the old maxim about truth being stranger than fiction, the flamboyant, fearless Morgan, son of minor Welsh gentry, proceeded to attack his nation's foes from Cuba to the coasts of South America and back again across a string of islands in a series of audacious flanking strikes that not only rattled the Spanish from the New World to Madrid, but lead to Spain's making a peace treaty with England that was highly beneficial to England's interests.

Stephan Talty also dishes up the de rigueur gossip and dirt on other pirates who sailed the Caribbean waters, sometimes acting in one nation's interest, sometimes that of another, most often simply dwelling as seaborne opportunists who sought profit and adventure wherever it was to be found. Fans of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series will probably enjoy reading about the exploits of real life counterparts to the fictional characters in the film, who were every bit as conniving, lawless and savage as might be expected. (Or hoped.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars long on style, short on research May 28, 2007
This book is basically a rehash of material that was covered by Peter Earle's THE SACK OF PANAMA. But instead of digging into new primary sources as Earle did in the unexplored Spanish records, Mr. Talty quotes familiar sources like Alexander Exquemeling and other secondary works, including Earle's. One sees the phrase "As quoted in" repeated all to often in his endnotes. He even includes sources on pirates who flourished sixty years after the events in his book, and he creates a fictional composite of a buccaneer named Roderick to perform actions that aren't backed up by facts. Mr. Talty also annoyingly peppers his prose with inappropriate modern analogies. For instance, Thomas Gage, former missionary to the Spanish Main, and propagandist for colonization of the Indies is described as the Neil Armstrong of his day.

Nevertheless, Talty's style can be engaging when he refrains from modernisms, and the book did provide some historical context for Henry Morgan's exploits. The introductory chapters on Gage and the settlement of Jamaica, as well as closing chapters concerning the years when Henry Morgan was deputy Governor of Jamaica were worth reading. But there is too much in between that has been refuted by the historical record, such as Exquemeling's lurid descriptions of torture which, if they were true, would have found their way into Spanish reports.
Was this review helpful to you?
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Private or privateer? August 3, 2007
I've never been much interested in pirates, but I found myself enthralled with Stephan Talty's 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.

Empire of Blue Water begins with the British trying to muscle in on Spain's hold in the New World by conquering Jamaica. At the time, Welshman Henry Morgan was a young sailor. But by the end of his life, he proved to be one of the most influential men in the Caribbean and helped to change the course of world history.

There was a thin line between being a private or a privateer, with Morgan being in the latter group. Privateering was actually invented by Henry VIII. This cash-strapped king offered commissions to sea captains to harass the French, attacking and capturing enemy ships. But unlike regular pirates, privateers gave a percentage of their "profits" to the crown. A romantic imagine exists today about pirates, but pirating was a very hard and dangerous life. But unlike most jobs, pirating was a "democratic institution." "The most important decisions were made from the bottom up." As for leadership, "the captain was only in charge when the crew was fighting, chasing a ship, or being chased."

Henry Morgan made a name (and a fortune) for himself by amassing large groups of pirates and staging four of the most daring raids of that period. They were against Granada, Portobello, Maracaibo and Panama. The Caribbean was akin to the Wild West in these days and Morgan proved to be a bold and brilliant leader. His cunning strategies allowed him to assess the weaknesses of the Spanish and to beat them at almost every turn. When England and Spain finally signed a peace treaty, pirating was outlawed.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
23 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Epitome of Poorly Written Narrative History June 13, 2007
By Cnerie
Narrative history, for better or worse, has become quite popular over the past several years. Unlike typical history tomes which are extensively referenced, narrative history reads more like fiction. This isn't necessarily bad if the history is accurate and if it presents some new interpretations of known fact.

Unfortunately, Empire of Blue Water is perhaps the most poorly researched "history" to date even by narrative history genre standards. No substantiating data is provided for Talty's contentions, many of his conjectures seem implausible and, halfway through the book, I've already found two gross inaccuracies. I've found little new information above and beyond what a couple of hours watching the History Channel on the same subject wouldn't provide. To make matters worse, Talty's writing style makes for a difficult read at best.

My impression is that this book is solely a marketing gimmick designed to take advantage of the current interest in Caribbean piracy as a result of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing adventure!!
Beats anything put on the screen by Disney. And it's all true!!!
Well written and a "cruise" to read. More please!
Published 25 days ago by Jeff A. Bartels
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Philippe De Winter
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with fascinating history
Excellent book. Fascinating history and covers a wide range of topics in the process of telling the story or Morgan's life. Well written, very accessible. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Benjamin R. Bowman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
arrived on time and in great shape. this book is a fantastic read, informative and entertaining.
Published 3 months ago by Gameon63
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books out there on Pirates.
Published 6 months ago by Tom
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read. Goes into details about individual raids and how they wrre accomplished. Not for kids!
Published 6 months ago by Jeff Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 7 months ago by Jerry Dobbs
4.0 out of 5 stars real pirates
Interesting. Gave a whole new perspective on pirates.
Published 8 months ago by PJ
4.0 out of 5 stars A great history of the great legend of Sir Henry Morgan
A great history of the great legend of Sir Henry Morgan. Takes the reader into and along on raids pillaging and the changing politics of the period
Published 8 months ago by Michael Hagen
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and great historical context.
Great book. I've never taken the time to review a book before. It was entertaining and at the same time a great snapshot of history for the time period and the background that... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Robert Maner
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Stephan Talty is the NY Times bestselling author of six acclaimed nonfiction books, as well as two crime novels, "Black Irish" and "Hangman," set in his hometown of Buffalo. He's written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Playboy, the Chicago Review and many others. Talty's ebook, "The Secret Agent," was a #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in nonfiction.

Talty lives outside New York City with his wife and two children. You can visit his website at

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category