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Entertaining, richly detailed and authoritatively narrated, Zacks's account of the life of legendary seaman William Kidd delivers a first-rate story. Though Kidd, better known as Captain Kidd, was inextricably bound with piracy and has popularly gone down as a marauding buccaneer himself, Zacks (An Underground Education) argues that he was actually a mercenary backed by the English government and several New World investors to track down pirates and reclaim their stolen wares. The book is cogent and replete with supporting evidence without the heavy-handed feel of some scholarly work. What really sets the book apart is Zacks's gift as researcher and storyteller. He highlights the role of an undeniable pirate, Robert Culliford, in Kidd's tale and pits the two men against each other from the outset, constructing his book as an intriguing duel. Aside from the tightly constructed plot, Zacks also wonderfully evokes the social and political life of the 17th century at land and at sea, and he takes turns at debunking and validating pirate folklore: while it appears the dead giveaway of a skull and crossbones made it a rare flag choice, Zacks contends that pirates did often wear extravagant clothing and were as drunk, cursing, hungry, horny... and violent as myth would have them. Augmented by such details and driven by a conflict between Kidd and Culliford that keeps the pages flying, Zacks's book is a treasure, indeed.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
William Kidd is remembered as one of history's greatest pirates, and thousands of people have searched in vain for the treasure he supposedly left buried on a desert island. In this fascinating work of historical revisionism, Zacks argues that in fact Kidd was a privateer, commissioned by the British Crown to hunt down pirates. But his mutinous crew was dissatisfied with the slim pickings of buccaneer-hunting, and Kidd himself inadvertently fell afoul of the powerful East India Company, which tarred him as a criminal. Instead of being acclaimed a national hero, he died on the gallows, in 1701. Zacks's detective work here is thoroughly convincing. In addition, he sets the suspenseful tale of Kidd's downfall within its larger historical context, in a manner reminiscent, at times, of Defoe, vividly illustrating the brutalities of life on a seagoing vessel and the chaos of urban society at the end of the seventeenth century.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Great read the story was very well written it explained a lot about the days and times of the 1600rd he days of the pirates and privateersPublished 2 days ago by Tom LaCroix
The subject of the book is interesting and the research seems to be sound. That said the writing is dull and plodding. Read morePublished 11 days ago by John L.
This guy could stretch the unstretchable when the inevitable is known.Published 29 days ago by donald johnston
Richard Zacks combines history and story into a plot driven very well done historical account of Captain Kidd.Published 1 month ago by mo
Pirates and blue water took hold of me as a kid and never really let go.
I blame those early-morning black-and-white film classics that our local TV station ran where I... Read more
Very well written book that starts dry and fro the first half of the book I often struggled to continue. But once you get to the last third of the book you cannot put it down. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Music and Life