From Publishers Weekly
In his latest vivid and well-researched account of the great era of piracy, historian Earle (The Pirate Wars
, etc.) focuses on the greatest achievement of the English corsairs who sailed to Jamaica and their leader Henry Morgan. The capture and sack of Panama in 1671 was the culmination of five years of no-quarter warfare between Spain and Britain in the Caribbean. During that time, one island was captured three times by different people; two cities and three towns were sacked; and Morgan's buccaneers annihilated a Spanish fleet in less than two hours. Earle's extensive use of unexplored Spanish records enables him to avoid the triumphalism of most Anglocentric accounts of these operations. Still, it's clear that Morgan and his followers were willing to accept almost any risk to make profit and harm Spain, and were vicious even by 17th-century standards. The Spaniards appear consistently behind the curve, ascribing their catastrophes to God's will instead of developing their ability to fight back. Ultimately, the English government ended buccaneering's heyday, to preserve a treaty that ended the war with Spain in Europe—but hopes for friendly relations in the Caribbean were destroyed by the flames in Panama on January 28, 1671. (Feb.)
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Pirate Captain Henry Morgan's raid was the last in a series of attacks on Spanish possessions in the Caribbean, all of which were authorized by the British government. Earle depicts the five years leading up to the raid, followed by a description of Morgan's capture and sack of the city of Panama. Earle covers four campaigns by the Jamaican privateers, culminating in the expedition to Panama and one successful counterattack by the Spaniards, revealing that "altogether, we have one island captured three times by different people, two cities and three towns captured and sacked, and one of the most extraordinary fleet actions in naval history." The narrative offers nearly as much space to the Spaniards, who were the victims, as to the Jamaican privateers themselves. Earle also chronicles the reaction in Spain and England to the events in the West Indies and examines the attempts made by the Spanish colonists in the Indies to defend themselves from their enemies in Jamaica. The result is an intensely engaging account of adventure. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved