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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Under the Black Flag

I just finished David Cordingly's Under the Black Flag : the Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates and it was fantastic.

I had always wondered why people were fascinated by pirates. What about these thieves, murderers, and torturers was appealing? Now I get it. I had been looking at them through historical narratives--Cordingly looks at novels, plays, and films in the context of the history, and shows how the view of the pirate as romantic figure of ultimate freedom developed. But he also gives us a history of piracy worldwide, and describes a most brutal occupation in an age of brutality with a dispassion that led me, the most squeamish of readers, to read on and on and on. And it's the worldwide coverage that I appreciate the most; if you think the area with the most pirate activity was the Caribbean, then you need to read this book.

And if you want to keep reading, check out this month's National Geographic magazine's article, Dark Passage about contemporary piracy in the Strait of Malacca.

(I have to thank the kind members of the Tim Powers Yahoo Group for their reading recommendations--even when it comes to piracy, they've never led me astray!)

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