- Series: Dover Maritime
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover Maritime edition (February 26, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 048640966X
- ISBN-13: 978-0486409665
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Buccaneers of America (Dover Maritime) Dover Maritime Edition
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Much of the book is in travel log format and describes the various towns, flora and fauna of the Caribbean, especially locales like Tortuga, Panama and Hispaniola. The author describes various animals and often their suitability as food, such as the differing qualities of the various types of turtles and even manatees. His descriptions of the trees and animals are fairly detailed and the modern reader can often make the connection with current names.
The other focus of the book is a set of narratives of two of the better known buccaneers: Francis L'Olonnais and Henry Morgan. The author provides accounts and opinions of the exploits of these two men and their crews, including the less than admirable usage of torture.
This is required reading for any with more than just a passing interest in pirates (I am somewhat ashamed that it has taken me nearly 8 years to get around to this cornerstone for a true understanding of buccaneers). While the biographical content is limited to just two buccaneers, the basic understanding of the buccaneer lifestyle and environment provide a firm basis for understanding much of what transpired during the 17th century in the Caribbean as well as what was to follow in the Golden Age of Piracy.
Interspersed among tales of piracy on the high seas (and, often times on land as well), Exquemelin provides a travelouge, vividly describing the flora, fauna, inhabitants and principal ports along the Caribbean. While there are exaggerations, on the whole it provides an excellent first-hand account of life in the Americas when piracy was at its zenith. Highly recommended for historians, pirate fans (and lets face it, who isn't a fan of pirates?), and especially those going to or coming from holiday in the Caribbean. A fascinating read.
The first half by Esquemeling is stiff and boring. He lays it on pretty thick about the famous pirates like L'Ollonais and Morgan being totally vicious sadists. Esquemeling claims to have been an eye-witness but he uses the third person virtually throughout.
The second half is very fluid and engaging. Actually made me sad that Ringrose met his end so prematurely a few years later whilst on a plundering mission with William Dampier.
There's a fair amount of navigation details in the Ringrose portion, especially towards the end when they sail around the horn and don't sight land again until they reach Barbados! This is an effective technique for conveying the real tedium and totally lost, almost hopeless, feeling of such a protracted voyage. It also makes you realize how hampered navigation was before a reliable way of determining longitude was discovered a hundred years later.