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A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates [Paperback]

Captain Charles Johnson , David Cordingly
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2010
The classic account of the lives & exploits of the most notorious pirates of the Golden Age—from Anne Bonny to Blackbeard

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"I presume we need make no Apology for giving the Name of a History to the following Sheets, though they contain nothing but the Actions of a Parcel of Robbers."
A "Parcel of Robbers" they may be, but pirates have long held a special place in our imaginations. The iconography of piracy--peg legs, eye patches, pieces of eight, squawking parrots, the Jolly Roger--was first codified in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. This collection of brief biographies reads like a Who's Who? of piracy, with entries on Captains Kidd, Rackam, and Roberts, women-in-disguise pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, "that couragious Brute, who might have pass'd in the World for a Heroe, had he been employ'd in a good Cause."

First published in 1724, A General History is the book that launched a thousand pirate stories--inspiring Robert Louis Stevenson's Long John Silver, J.M. Barrie's Captain Hook, and Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood. Though it had been attributed to a shadowy character named Captain Charles Johnson since its date of publication, the book has now been convincingly (though not incontrovertibly) attributed to Daniel Defoe. The 18th-century text, reproduced here complete with the awkward sentence construction, capitalization of nouns proper and common, and frequent italicizing typical of its era, sometimes makes for rather difficult reading, but Defoe's prose still manages to sparkle. With a new introduction by Richard West, author of Daniel Defoe: The Life and Strange, Surprising Adventures, A General History is a must-read for armchair swashbucklers. --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Despite varying titles, these are essentially the same book. Published in 1724, Defoe's chronicle of the scourges of the sea was a smashing success, finding a wide audience eager for tales of those cutthroat sailors who flew the skull and crossbones. The Dover edition is more scholarly, including several essays on Defoe, indexes (ships, names, and places), photos, and a postscript. If you don't need any of that, save a couple of bucks and go with the Carroll & Graf edition.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
I read, write, and study PIRATES! As with most history, one often does not know what is an actual fact or one person's account of an historical event. This book was written in 1724 towards the end of the "Golden Age of Piracy" that included pirates in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. This book is Capt. Charles Johnson's account of famous and infamous pirates most people know (Ed Teach--Blackbeard, William Kidd, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read)and many that most people have not heard of (Worley, Anstis, Vane, Lowther, Lowe, etc.). The accounts sound plausible, but it is unknown where the author found him information in the 1700's. I would guess it came orally as well as from newspaper clippings. The book may be difficult for many to read, because it is written in long rambly sentences which was the style then. I would recommend this book to history buffs. For your children I would recommend a delightful novel that combines slave children and pirates: The Diary of a Slave Girl, Ruby Jo that is about Blackbeard's time spent terrorizing Charleston, SC. (Don't worry mom and dad, no one was killed, tortured, or mutilated. The worse thing that happened to Charlestonians was that they were scared they would be killed, tortured, or mutilated by the piraty men!)
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1.0 out of 5 stars The editor messed up the original book June 16 1999
By A Customer
This Cordingly editor messed up a real classic. If you want to read something that is very different from what the original book was, then read this one. It is sad to see pieces of the classics reprinted as the editor thinks fit according to his personal taste, inserting the pirates of the 1724 edition, taking some of the 1726 edition, mixing them in a blender, and offering the results for sale only to make some money. The illustrations are also misleading, adding them as if they were part of the original book, and including several of the 1900's. If you are interested in reading the real thing, refer to a first leaguer such as Manuel Schonhorn, who edited the 1726 edition of Johnson's. It was published by Dover Publications, first printed in 1972, and again in 1999. If you don't want to buy things that don't work, nor be misleaded, then save yourself some dollars in poor books and spend them wisely. P.D. Now that I have both books, I will get rid of Cordingly's version, storing it away in the athic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and graphic. Oct. 8 1998
By A Customer
Originally published in 1724, Captain Charles Johnson's "A History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates" is a vivid and graphic account of the exploids of a dozen English and Welsh pirates.
Captain Johnson, who was once thought to be Daniel Defoe, dramatically relates the fights, rapes, and murders of these sea-going criminals.
Surprisingly, two of the 12 pirates were women--Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. The latter was once battling other pirates who were boarding her ship. Reed "called to those under deck to come up and fight like men, and finding that they did not stir, fired her arms down the hole amongst them, killing one and wounding others."
Maritime historians will enjoy this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Defoe? Really? Sept. 17 2002
Officially, this book is taken for the work of Captain Charles Johnson. It is a compilation of narratives about various individual pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy, names like Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts (the dread pirate Roberts, from Princess Bride fame), Anne Bonny et al.
The conclusion that Defoe and Johnson were one and the same has come under fire these last few years and is not the accepted fact it once was. This text includes portions of the original volumes by Johnson, but not the whole, although it can be argued that it includes the stories that most readers would want. There is also some question about the validity of the stories, but we may never know whether they are true or fiction. P-)
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