Today most of us know what we know about pirates from classics like Treasure Island and the films starring Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley. But who were the real pirates of the Caribbean and where did they come from? And how were they tamed? David Cordingly's latest book reveals the true story to have been at least as fascinating and gripping as the legends. When the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, there was an explosion of piracy across the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard of North America. Hundreds of unemployed sailors roamed the seaports and many were tempted to take to piracy. Unable to attack enemy targets any longer, they replaced their national flags with the black flag and became `pyrates and enemies of all mankind'. Nowhere was the problem greater than in the Bahamas. So, after years of ignoring the problem, the British Government was forced to act. Three warships were despatched across the Atlantic with orders to suppress the pirates and it was agreed that a Governor of the Bahama Islands be appointed `to drive the pirates from their lodgement'. The man selected for the nigh impossible task was Captain Woodes Rogers, a former privateer who had made his name (he rescued Alexander Selkirk, the model for Defoe's Robinson Crusoe) and his fortune (GBP9m) by leading a highly successful voyage round the world. This is the story of his battle with the pirates, told in David Cordingly's inimitable style.
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David Cordingly was Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum for twelve years, where he organised such exhibitions as `Captain James Cook, Navigator', `The Mutiny on the Bounty' and `Pirates: Fact and Fiction'. His other books include Life among the Pirates, Heroines and Harlots, Billy Ruffian and Cochrane, the Dauntless.Review:
`Both a brilliant idea and an engrossing book that tells the story of a ship of the line in Nelson's day ... Billy Ruffian is for anyone interested in the Napoleonic wars or entranced by the adventures of Hornblower or Jack Aubrey' * Bernard Cornwall, Books of the Year, Mail on Sunday * `David Cordingly is a brilliant historian: authoritative but easy to read, with an eye for the story yet with a touch light enough to let the facts speak for themselves' * Daily Telegraph * `No-one could be better qualified to write this excellent biography of the ship than David Cordingly' * Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph * `Intriguing and satisfying ... Cochrane packed enough drama and history to shame both Horatio Nelson and Sir Francis Drake' * Washington Post *
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