If you would like to read a book which explodes with action and adventures on literally every page of it, please buy this book.
I admit that my area of interest is not about the history of piracy. Far from it. But I decided to read a book on a different matter, for a change. My only regret is that it is too short, but I intend to re-read it very soon.
So, what about our pirates? Names such as Ben Hornigold, Sam Bellamy and Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard populate the so-called Golden Age of Piracy. It was, in the words of Mr. Cordingly, a world whose nucleus had "loose and disorderly people" which produced a generation of pirates whose operations extended from the Caribbean to the east coast of North America and across the Atlantic to the slave ports of West Africa and beyond to the Indian Ocean.
Then there was an explosion of piracy after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which was responsible for the reduction of the size of the main maritime navies. "This threw thousands of redundant sailors on to the streets", and, because they were unable to find work elsewhere, these men (definitely not all of them) turned to piracy.
Enter Woodes Rogers, who, in the middle of Britain's war with Spain, was hired to lead a mission against Spanish targets in the Pacific. He was married to Sarah and they had three children and he left Bristol in 1708, first to the South-Seas, "thence to the East -Indies,and homewards by the Cape of Good Hope". He returned to Britain after three years and the first half of the book describes the many adventures and ordeals Rogers went through together with his other fellows. Frosts, heavy rains, storms, hot or windy weather,the rescue of Alexander Selkirk (the man whose true story inspired Defoe to write his mega-bestseller "Robinson Crusoe"),rats,sea gulls, vultures, pelicans,raids on Spanish towns, crew quarrels, various sicknesses, brawsls and attacks on Spanish ships-all these were part of Rogers' menu in those three years on the sea.
However, after returning to England, he was appointed by King George the First to the post of governor of the Bahamas, where he and his men would play the central role in battling various privateers and pirates who spread like a plague over the many islands of that region.
It was here where another surprise was waiting for him, among other new adventurous episodes: pirate women. Among them there was Anne Bonny, who left her husband for another man, or Mary Read, who spent a number of years as a soldier in Flanders before joining the pirates. I will not reveal how the whole affair ended, although I can add that both women faced trial.
Having returned to England, Rogers battled with debts and bankruptcy, but left his country again in 1729 to take up his role as governor of the Bahamas for the second time. The many crimes, trials and executions of pirates are elaborated on in this part and they complete this splendidly written book which is a lively and entertaining history of piracy, which is superbly reconstructed by a very gifted author. Highly recommended!