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Pirates : Truth and Tale Hardcover – May 1, 2017
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'Helen Hollick has it all! She tells a great story, and gets her history right.'--Bernard Cornwell
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If you want to now the truth about the Golden Age of piracy, read this.
Why haven't I given it five stars? Firstly, the price of the ebook is far too high. Secondly, the author is let down by a lack of editing, which is fully the responsibility of the publisher. A pity, as this would otherwise have the potential to sell thousands and thousands.
Easy to read and accessible, this is the perfect background book to Ms Hollick's fiction series on the pirate Jesemiah Acorne. It fills the gaps that fiction can't, and provides a backdrop to the events and characters in Acorne's life. And if you are watching 'Jamestown', this follows nicely on and puts the TV series into some context, because where there was wealth being created, there was a pirate trying to steal it.
This book contains 249 errors of spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. The errors begin on the copyright page and increase a few pages later in the Timeline where ‘Hans Sloan’ should be ‘Hans Sloane’ (p10). Here is a summary, with examples, of what this reader found:
- in the Timeline (p10) 1685 comes before 1684.
- there are straightforward spelling mistakes: hansome (> handsome, p32); yeilded (> yielded, p34); rum and coke (> rum and Coke, p83); acolade (> accolade, p147).
- many proper names are incorrect: Isle of White (p268), You Tube (p283), Kings Lynn (p250), Kiera Knightly (p244).
- verbs don’t agree with their subject in terms of singular and plural: ‘the ship were in northern waters’ (p233); ‘The delight of this adventure story are…’ (p194); ‘Anne’s name and gender was widely known’ (p105).
- plurals follow an indefinite article: ‘an East Indiamen’ (p144), and follow a singular demonstrative pronoun: ‘at the back of this books’ (p259).
- there is consistent misunderstanding of how the hyphen is used to clarify meaning.
- ‘off’ and ‘of’ are confused (p164), as well as homonyms such as ‘principle’/‘principal’.
- apostrophes are misplaced and incorrectly reversed.
- perfectly spelled words are nevertheless wrongly used to create an error: ‘as the ship goers down’ (p43), ‘[a] solution was set in placer’ (p177).
- sometimes there is no spacing between words: ‘July1726’ (p284).
- the author twice misquotes the title of the book as ‘Pirates: Truth and Tale’ (p202, p319; the cover image on Amazon incorrectly shows ‘Tale’), as well as styling one of her publishers, SilverWood as ‘Silverwood’ (p318).
I'm grading it 4* for the writing, and 1* for editing/proofreading.
So who is at fault here, for the 249 errors? I have to conclude that the author, who is probably the number one authority on pirates and their world (and who certainly writes with great gusto), has been very badly let down by Amberley, the publishers. Surely it does not reflect well on the author’s knowledge if the book prints the very well-known ‘Mary Celeste’ as ‘Marie Celeste’ (p18; a mistake also made by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1884) and the equally well-known ‘Judge Jeffreys’ as ‘Judge Jeffries’ (p10).
The experience of reading this book only reinforces this reviewer’s opinion that (semi-)mainstream publishers now put very little time (and presumably money) into getting the author’s text even close to being accurate and readable before publication, and thus have abandoned the role they traditionally played of ensuring that the author’s usually very hard work is presented in the best possible way.
On page 93 the author states: ‘My favourite desert is rum and raisin ice cream’. Editorially, one can laugh or one can cry.