From the Introduction -
"With the demise of the pirate scourge of the early 18th century, many sea captains took to privateering as a means of making money. This was a form of nationally-sponsored piracy which reached its peak during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Although a world-wide phenomenon, privateering proved particularly popular in the waters of the Americas. Rivalry between European powers and the rise of independence movements among the nations of the New World provided ample opportunities for privateering captains."
"A privateer is essentially someone who attacks the shipping of an enemy country during wartime with the approval of their own national government. This form of legitimised piracy proved extremely popular, and soon letters of reprisal or `letters of marque' were issued to almost anyone who applied for them. At minimal cost a nation could attack the maritime commerce of an enemy without diverting the resources of its national fleet. For small maritime powers such as the United States of America during the American Revolution anf the War of 1812, this proved a vital part of its maritime strategy."
"Where possible survey of privateering in the Americas has drawn on original material - letters of marque, shipping records from ports such as Salem and Baltimore, reminiscences of privateering captains and newspaper reports written during the last upsurge of piracy."
The Contents are -
P07: The Development of Privateering
.Colonial Roots; The American Revolution; The War of 1812; The last pirates
P14: Organization and Recruitment
.Privateering contracts; Recruitment; Privateering crews
P022: The Privateering Art of War
`The Prey; The Chase; Boarding; Gunnery
P30: Privateering Vessels
P33-42: Colour Plates
P43: Privateer Captains and Latter-Day Pirates
.Jonathan Haraden; Silas Talbot; John Paul Jones; Robert Surcouf; Thomas Boyle; Jean Laffite; Benito de Soto; Pedro Gilbert
P50: Privateering Ports and Pirate Dens
Privateering ports - America; Britain and Canada; France; The last pirate dens - Barataria; Galveston; Cuba
P57: The Anti-Piracy Campaign of the 1820s
P60: Plate Commentaries
The Colour Plates -
A: Early Revolutionary War Privateers off the coast of Rhode Island, 1775. This shows a longboat sneaking towards a small vessel at anchor.
B: John Paul Jones raiding the Earl of Selkirk's House, 1778. This shows the pirate Jones and four of his evil-looking men looting a room, as the Lady of the House looks on, while comforting two frightened maidservants.
C: Levi Barlow's Privateers attacked by Loyalists on Nantucket, 1782. This shows four figures sheltering behind a makeshift barricade, exchanging shots with the crew of the vessel that they had their eye on.
D: Robert Surcouf boarding a British East Indiaman, 1796. This shows Surcouf on the deck of the East Indiaman, flourishing his pistols as three of his crew swarm over the side behind him.
E: The Prince de Neufchatel, pursued by a British Frigate, 1814. This shows a small but heavily-gunned vessel with officers in the rigging and crew peering over the bulwarks at a Royal Navy vessel in the distance.
F: The General Armstrong repelling a British attack off Fayal, 1814.This shows two longboats of Royal marines attempting to board, with ships and harbour buildings in the background.
G: Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans, 1815. This shows Laffite and three crew at a cannon, behind an earthwork.
H: Commodore Porter and the `Mosquito Fleet'. This shows the Commodore descending the loading stage steps to an awaiting longboat, or possibly a barge.
I: Benito de Soto in Gibraltar, 1832. This is a street scene, with a former victim of de Soto raising the Hue and Cry as he recognises de Soto and some of his men.
J: `Don' Pedro Gebert on the `Mexican', 1832. This shows Don Pedro being rowed back to his ship, holding the chest of silver he has just looted, as in the background his men force the crew of the `Mexican' below decks prior to firing the ship.
There are many monochrome illustrations, mostly contemporary, supporting the text, which is well-written and readable. The author is an expert on the age of the wooden ship. The colour plates are excellent.