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A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates Paperback – Bargain Price, May 4, 2010

ISBN-10: 1599219050

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599219050
  • ASIN: B0057DC972
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I presume we need make no Apology for giving the Name of a History to the following Sheets, though they contain nothing but the Actions of a Parcel of Robbers."
A "Parcel of Robbers" they may be, but pirates have long held a special place in our imaginations. The iconography of piracy--peg legs, eye patches, pieces of eight, squawking parrots, the Jolly Roger--was first codified in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. This collection of brief biographies reads like a Who's Who? of piracy, with entries on Captains Kidd, Rackam, and Roberts, women-in-disguise pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, "that couragious Brute, who might have pass'd in the World for a Heroe, had he been employ'd in a good Cause."

First published in 1724, A General History is the book that launched a thousand pirate stories--inspiring Robert Louis Stevenson's Long John Silver, J.M. Barrie's Captain Hook, and Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood. Though it had been attributed to a shadowy character named Captain Charles Johnson since its date of publication, the book has now been convincingly (though not incontrovertibly) attributed to Daniel Defoe. The 18th-century text, reproduced here complete with the awkward sentence construction, capitalization of nouns proper and common, and frequent italicizing typical of its era, sometimes makes for rather difficult reading, but Defoe's prose still manages to sparkle. With a new introduction by Richard West, author of Daniel Defoe: The Life and Strange, Surprising Adventures, A General History is a must-read for armchair swashbucklers. --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Despite varying titles, these are essentially the same book. Published in 1724, Defoe's chronicle of the scourges of the sea was a smashing success, finding a wide audience eager for tales of those cutthroat sailors who flew the skull and crossbones. The Dover edition is more scholarly, including several essays on Defoe, indexes (ships, names, and places), photos, and a postscript. If you don't need any of that, save a couple of bucks and go with the Carroll & Graf edition.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This Cordingly editor messed up a real classic. If you want to read something that is very different from what the original book was, then read this one. It is sad to see pieces of the classics reprinted as the editor thinks fit according to his personal taste, inserting the pirates of the 1724 edition, taking some of the 1726 edition, mixing them in a blender, and offering the results for sale only to make some money. The illustrations are also misleading, adding them as if they were part of the original book, and including several of the 1900's. If you are interested in reading the real thing, refer to a first leaguer such as Manuel Schonhorn, who edited the 1726 edition of Johnson's. It was published by Dover Publications, first printed in 1972, and again in 1999. If you don't want to buy things that don't work, nor be misleaded, then save yourself some dollars in poor books and spend them wisely. P.D. Now that I have both books, I will get rid of Cordingly's version, storing it away in the athic.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Stapleton VINE VOICE on September 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is yet another of the knock-offs of Captain Charles Johnson's General History of Pirates. It includes narratives of all the old favorites: Blackbeard, Kidd, Roberts, Bonny and others. As usual, Johnson's prose is preserved and some of the original illustrations grace the pages. The editor/publisher has includes a glossary, bibliography and notes to the original text.
However, the down side of this particular volume is that it includes only a subset of Johnson's original writings. And, there is no added index with which to quickly reference particular names and such. While I don't quite agree that the editor has ruined the original, I do find that this version falls short of its potential. P-)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lance C. Panzer on September 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
1695-1725 is called the Golden Age of Piracy, a time when the black flag of the skull and crossbones provoked terror like nothing else. As European ships fattened with goods and gold left the New World for the Old, pirates were as plentiful as sharks. Courageous, clever, defiant--and drunk--these thieves knew no boundaries as they plied the waters with an unquenchable thirst for mayhem. They burned ships for sport, they murdered, they stole, they even bribed colonial governors to look the other way. One gang actually drew up a formal document declaring war on the entire world.

And many of them swung from the yardarm as they were methodically brought to justice.

The most intriguing aspect of these stories is the portrayal of piratical society. They democratically elected their ship's captain. They debated and voted on their next destination. They followed orders unquestionably. They admired courage under fire, and admired an intelligent mind put to foul deeds. They trusted one another--to a point. As two or three ships sailed together, many a time one of them would weigh anchor in the dead of night and sail off with the booty, leaving their cohorts to cry in their rum--or pursue them and viciously kill `em all for daring to steal from fellow thieves. A perverse maritime code of respect and deceit evolved amongst these men, much like within today's penitentiaries.

Personally, my biggest surprise was the ease with which pirates recruited more pirates. A ship would be overtaken and plundered, and the pirate captain would shout, "Would anyone like to join us?!" and formerly law-abiding seamen would clamber over the rails to join the cutthroats. The free-wheeling life of adventure, ill-gotten wealth, and promiscuity was irresistible.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read, write, and study PIRATES! As with most history, one often does not know what is an actual fact or one person's account of an historical event. This book was written in 1724 towards the end of the "Golden Age of Piracy" that included pirates in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. This book is Capt. Charles Johnson's account of famous and infamous pirates most people know (Ed Teach--Blackbeard, William Kidd, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read)and many that most people have not heard of (Worley, Anstis, Vane, Lowther, Lowe, etc.). The accounts sound plausible, but it is unknown where the author found him information in the 1700's. I would guess it came orally as well as from newspaper clippings. The book may be difficult for many to read, because it is written in long rambly sentences which was the style then. I would recommend this book to history buffs. For your children I would recommend a delightful novel that combines slave children and pirates: The Diary of a Slave Girl, Ruby Jo that is about Blackbeard's time spent terrorizing Charleston, SC. (Don't worry mom and dad, no one was killed, tortured, or mutilated. The worse thing that happened to Charlestonians was that they were scared they would be killed, tortured, or mutilated by the piraty men!)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Originally published in 1724, Captain Charles Johnson's "A History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates" is a vivid and graphic account of the exploids of a dozen English and Welsh pirates.
Captain Johnson, who was once thought to be Daniel Defoe, dramatically relates the fights, rapes, and murders of these sea-going criminals.
Surprisingly, two of the 12 pirates were women--Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. The latter was once battling other pirates who were boarding her ship. Reed "called to those under deck to come up and fight like men, and finding that they did not stir, fired her arms down the hole amongst them, killing one and wounding others."
Maritime historians will enjoy this book.
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