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The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down Paperback – Bargain Price, June 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Woodard (The Lobster Coast) tells a romantic story about Caribbean pirates of the "Golden Age" (1715–1725)—whom he sees not as criminals but as social revolutionaries—and the colonial governors who successfully clamped down on them, in the early 18th-century Bahamas. One group of especially powerful pirates set up a colony in the Bahamas. Known as New Providence, the community attracted not only disaffected sailors but also runaway slaves and yeomen farmers who had trouble getting a toehold in the plantation economy of the American colonies. The British saw piracy as a threat to colonial commerce and government. Woodes Rogers, the governor of the Bahamas and himself a former privateer, determined to bring the pirates to heel. Woodard describes how Rogers, aided by Virginia's acting governor, Alexander Spotswood, finally defeated the notorious Blackbeard. Woodard's portrait of Rogers is a little flat—the man is virtually flawless ("courageous, selfless, and surprisingly patriotic"), and the prose is sometimes breathless ("they would know him by just one word... pirate"). Still, this is a fast-paced narrative that will be especially attractive to lovers of pirate lore and to vacationers who are Bahamas-bound. Maps. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The early eighteenth century was the so-called golden age of piracy, particularly in the Caribbean. Although much of the romantic musings about "pirate honor" is nonsense, an unusual group of pirates, led by Edward "Blackbeard" Teach and Sam Bellamy, actually set up a functioning government in the Bahamas with pretensions to establishing a form of social justice. Their "republic" attracted deserting sailors who could not tolerate harsh naval discipline, runaway slaves, and impoverished farmers. In this republic, called New Providence, a rough but democratic and egalitarian ethos apparently took hold. But, according to Woodard, the British government saw the existence of this independent entity as an intolerable threat. So, on the theory of sending a thief to catch a thief, they sent Woodes Rogers, a former privateer, to crush the republic. This breezy, fast-moving book is filled with exciting action and colorful characters. It will provide general readers and those with a special interest in the period much enjoyment. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015603462X
  • ASIN: B001VEI00G
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,680,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Colin Woodard, an award-winning author and journalist, is State & National Affairs Writer for The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, and a longtime correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in The Economist, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Smithsonian, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Bloomberg View, Washington Monthly and dozens of other national and international publications. A native of Maine, he has reported from more than fifty foreign countries and six continents, and lived for more than four years in Eastern Europe during and after the collapse of communism. His investigative reporting for the Telegram won a 2012 George Polk Award.

His most recent book, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America", was named a Best Book of 2011 by the editors of The New Republic and the Globalist and won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-Fiction. "The Republic of Pirates", a definitive biography of Blackbeard, Sam Bellamy, and other members of the most famous pirate gang in history, is the basis of the forthcoming NBC drama "Crossbones", starring John Malkovich.

He is also the author of the New England bestseller "The Lobster Coast", a cultural and environmental history of coastal Maine; "Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas", a narrative non-fiction account of the deterioration of the world's oceans.

A graduate of Tufts University and the University of Chicago, he lives in Midcoast Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Steven Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Colin Woodard has authored a wonderful history of the pirates of the Caribbean in their heyday, with the prime years being 1715-1725. The lives of Jack Sparrow and Long John Silver fascinate us; the real pirates, as depicted by Woodard, are perhaps even more interesting.

He tells the story of the "pirate republic," headquartered in the Bahamas. He uses the term "republic" purposefully. He contends that (and this appears to me to be hyperbole) the pirates fueled (page 1) ". . .the democratic sentiments that would later drive the American revolution." Some fascinating tidbits related to this thesis: pirates shared their spoils relatively equally; rank-and-file pirates elected and deposed ships' captains; decisions were often made in what Woodard calls "open councils"; runaway slaves sometimes came aboard as pirates and were often treated as equals by their fellow pirates. As Woodard notes (page 4): "The pirate gangs of the Bahamas were enormously successful. At their zenith they succeeded in severing Britain, France, and Spain from their New World empires, cutting off trade routes. . . ."

The primary figures covered in this book are three pirate leaders, Samuel ("Black Sam") Bellamy, Edward ("Blackbeard") Thatch, and Charles Vane. Of course, many others are mentioned as well, including "Calico Jack" Rackham, Benjamin Hornigold, Josiah Burgess, Henry Jennings, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. The fourth primary character is the man who devoted himself to destroying the pirate republic--Woodes Rogers. The book tells the story of the pirates and their depredations. It also tells the story of Rogers, who made it his aim to destroy those pirates.

All in all, a rip roaring volume.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is a subject that I had previously given very little thought to. Even as a kid I never found the subject of pirates to be all that interesting. I don't know why. However, over the past couple of years I have had occasion to read a pair of phenomenal books about the slave trade. I found both Ron Soodalter's "Hanging Captain Gordon" and Charles Rappleye's "Sons of Providence" to be absolutely spellbinding. So when I recently came across Colin Woodward's new book "The Republic of Pirates" I simply could not resist.

There is an old saying that counsels if you want to find out why things happen the way they do then simply "follow the money". This is essentially the route Colin Woodward takes in "The Republic of Pirates". After reading this book it is now clear to me why so many men made the fateful decision to turn away from "legitimate" authority and engage in the act of piracy. For many of these men had very legitimate economic and political issues with those in power in England in the early 18th century and most of these concerns were simply not being addressed. One by one and for very personal reasons men made the decision to rebel against the authorities who were holding them down. Before long a large group of like minded individuals would set up shop at an island known as New Providence in the Bahamas and would begin a period of plunder and terror that would last for nearly a decade. Operating all along the eastern coast of America and in the Carribean these daring men succeeded in wreaking havoc and disrupting trade between the European powers and their various colonies in the New World as well as the very lucrative trade with the Far East.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You might think a person interested in pirates would get into the historical records to learn more about those rough wanderers. Colin Woodard came at it from the other direction: he has a fascination with history and "got into" pirates as a vehicle to bring U.S. colonial history to life. "The Republic of Pirates" is the fascinating product of his research.

Woodard focuses on what he calls "the Golden Age of Piracy," a ten-year period from 1715 to 1725. The few thousand men -- and a few women -- who populate this story were a different breed from the government-sanctioned privateers of earlier times. As Woodard describes them, they were " ... engaged in more than simple crime and undertook nothing less than a social and poitical revolt. They were sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves rebelling against their oppressors: captains, ship owners, and the autocrats of the great slave plantations of America and the West Indies." Some of them were set up as a rebel navy by supporters of James Stuart, the half-brother of Queen Anne, exiled after her death in 1714.

Woodard's three main pirate subjects -- Samuel Bellamy, Charles Vane, and Edward "Black Beard" Thatch, grew up in an England made harsh for the lower classes by the waning of feudalism, the enclosure of public grazing land, and the flight from rural regions to London. The fourth focus of the book is Woodes Rogers, a Bahamian governor and former privateer who would eventually be the downfall of the pirates' Golden Age.

Funded in part by the wreck of a great Spanish treasure fleet off Florida in 1715, the pirate bands began to congregate in the Bahamas and to grow in strength and daring.
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