Maritime historian Dolin...revels in the marauding adventures of...high-seas brigands while explaining factors, economic and political, involved in the rise and decline of the piratical phenomenon ... Amply illustrated, Dolin’s realistic rendition of piracy, which he contrasts with its romanticized, Jolly Roger image, will enthrall readers seeking a new take on this ever-popular topic.
Pity poor, honest Robert Snead. A justice in colonial Philadelphia in 1697, he was determined to enforce the laws against piracy by arresting members of pirate Henry Avery’s crew. But the governor’s daughter was married to one of them. Snead’s fellow justice also had a relative married to a pirate. They blocked him at every turn. Ultimately, the sheriff let the criminals 'escape.' A disgusted Snead gave up. In a nutshell, that’s how the so-called 'Golden Age' of piracy from 1680-1726 became so golden ... As author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates in his gripping Black Flags, Blue Waters, colonists and pirates were 'partners in crime'—until their interests diverged.
Eric Jay Dolin adroitly addresses these themes in Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, an entertaining romp across the oceans that shows how piracy is an inseparable element of our past. Here, as in his earlier books Leviathan (2007), about whaling, and Brilliant Beacons (2016), about lighthouse keepers, Mr. Dolin explores a dreamy occupation and then shifts our focus to the gritty, perilous realities of leading such a life ... Mr. Dolin has a keen eye for detail and the telling episode. Readers will learn fascinating tidbits of language, habits and cultural assimilation.
In this informative volume, Dolin focuses on 'pirates who either operated out of America’s English colonies or plundered ships along the American coast' during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, a period dubbed the Golden Age of Piracy ... Graphic descriptions of violence, such as sexual assaults of passengers, debunk the image of pirates as appealing rogues...Dolin lays out the history of 'political intrigue and collusion' between pirates and colonists who encouraged them because they enabled colonists 'to obtain the goods and money they so desperately desired despite the onerous trade restrictions put in place by the mother country.' Dolin’s interpretations could be debated...but this is nonetheless an excellent starting point for readers interested in this misunderstood chapter of American history.
...Focusing on American waters during piracy’s 'Golden Age' of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Dolin explains that pirates thrived in times of war, when privateering commissions provided a cover for more illicit activities ... The majority of pirates were white men in their 20s, but a significant number were black slaves taken from captured ships who 'became valued crewmembers who fought alongside their white pirate brethren and shared in the spoils.' Despite their reputation for violence, most pirates 'never wanted to fight if they could avoid it,' as confrontation only put their lives, ships, and potential cargo in jeopardy ... A general lack of records compromises Dolin’s efforts, leaving one wanting to know more about notorious pirates such as Blackbeard and Edward Low. Nonetheless, the author offers an informative and often entertaining blend of narrative history and analysis that should appeal to a general audience.