This is a tale of swashbuckling adventure on the high seas of the 17th century. Captain William Kidd was not actually a pirate, but employed by King ...Show synopsisThis is a tale of swashbuckling adventure on the high seas of the 17th century. Captain William Kidd was not actually a pirate, but employed by King William III to track down pirates and requisition their treasure - the semi-legal role of the "privateer". As a counterpoint to his story, Zacks also tells the forgotten story of his great rival, Robert Culliford, an utterly ruthless buccaneer who flew a blood red flag which signified "no mercy" and whose surgeon was named Jon Death. Kidd's and Culliford's paths were to cross again and again during the course of their lives, but in a tale of double-crossing, betrayal and political scandal, the outcome was not as expected. One of these men would end up hanging on the gallows of the London dockside; the other would walk away with the treasure.Hide synopsis
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The author apparently did considerable research - a plus. However, some of the detail of the research is not entirely relevant - a negative. All in all, joyful reading and a facinating journey. Educational as well.
I rarely give any book a five star rating but I DO for this one. A historian, Richard Zacks, painstakingly hunts down evidence of the whole long saga of Kidd's life and travels, and the misbegotten final privateering trek to the East Indies. He even finds the crucial lost letters of marque that would have solidified Kidd's claim that the ships he robbed were legal prey when he looted them.
An incredible job. The book is sprinkled with period art, maps, actual court testimony and text of letters. An impressive list of sources plus a helpful index in the back. Bravo.
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