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A Merry Life and a Short One
on June 17, 2006
Where many books on pirates and piracy paint with a broad stroke, covering everything from the Greeks through the Elizabethan Sea Dogs to the last throes of the Golden Age, Marcus Rediker has focused in tightly on that last era or more precisely 1716-1726. Covering a variety of aspects, the author, guides us through the how and why of these last remnants of generations of piracy.
While the prose is readable and often entertaining, it is undoubtedly a scholarly work based upon extensive research (as witnessed by the numerous endnotes). I do not agree with all of Rediker's conclusions, but he has done a wonderful job of explaining how he arrived at those conclusions. The favorites are here, Blackbeard, Roberts, Bonny, Read among others. The author presents a certain admiration and sympathy for the majority of pirates while detesting the cruelties of the few.
The depth of the research will provide a few eye-openers for even the reasonably well versed hobby historian and a decent base for any budding pirate historian. The subject matter is also well indexed for future referencing. All in all a good read and resource.