Whenever historical figures such as pirates are so common in popular culture, I often wonder how accurate the representation is. This book engagingly answers these questions. Not surprisingly, there is some truth to the modern image of a pirate. For example, they often dressed with scarfs, lots of guns, and even kept parrots as pets. On the other hand, they were largely brutal criminals, not jovial, romantic figures usually portrayed in stories.
With such a fragmentary history, the big challenge is to present a coherent picture of pirate history. Cordingly doesn't always pull this off. I found the book disorganized in places, and some of the chapters have fairly loose threads holding the material together. A lot of the excursions into analyzing popular culture are not particularly insightful, and interfere with the strength of the book, telling the story of pirates.
Overall, a fun and interesting read on a criminal class that is well recognized, if not well known.