The Republic of Pirates Review
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If you have a serious interest in pirates (and not just the Johnny Depp kind), then you need to read Colin Woodard’s The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down.

While Woodard discusses many pirates throughout the book, he focuses on three of them: Samuel (“Black Sam”) Bellamy, Edward (“Blackbeard”) Teach, and Charles Vane, all of whom lived during the Golden Age (1715-1725) of pirates in early 18th-century Bahamas. The pirates lived lives of danger, but also of freedom—the structure and rewards of which attracted slaves, merchant seamen, and sailors. They often found the life more rewarding than honest living and the conditions better than those in the merchant fleet—not to mention those of city and plantation life. The pirates set up a functioning government in New Providence, from where they plotted their attacks and wrought havoc on trade between Europe and the colonies. The British government was so threatened by piracy that it sent merchant fleet owner and former privateer Woodes Rogers, the man who set out to destroy them. The Republic of Pirates tells the story of how Rogers eventually brought them down.

The book carries a great deal of detail throughout, which the author has taken from government records, eyewitness accounts, and journal records (just check out the pages of end notes). Readers with just a passing interest in the era may find the level of detail tiresome—for there is much to keep track of. Nevertheless, The Republic of Pirates is very well done; pirate fans and history buffs alike will enjoy this well-researched and documented narrative.

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