The year is 1680, in the heart of the Golden Age of Piracy, and more than three hundred daring, hardened pirates—a potent mix of low-life scallywags and a rare breed of gentlemen buccaneers—gather on a remote Caribbean island. The plan: to wreak havoc on the Pacific coastline, raiding cities, mines, and merchant ships. The booty: the bright gleam of Spanish gold and the chance to become legends. So begins one of the greatest piratical adventures of the era—a story not given its full due until now.
Thomson, in his new book Born to be Hanged, brings 17th century pirating to a new level ... The book opens with an excellent history of pirating in the late 1600s and explains that the various concepts of the swashbuckling pirate that are seen in today’s literature are not quite the reality of such men ... The story is riddled from beginning to end with the tensions experienced by the pirates as they pursue their major goals—treasures and expunging the Spaniards from their forts and their ships. So much of the story is gained from the pirates’ journals, that the scale is tipped, for the most part, in favor of the pirates and to the detriment of the Spanish. Regardless of each excursion’s success or failure, it’s a rousing tale from beginning to end ... As the journey comes to an end and the surviving buccaneers find themselves back in England facing charges for pirating, there is a sense that the excitement of the first three-quarters of the book has lagged somewhat. That should not, however, deter the reader. The story is filled with tension, conflict, and explicit details to make it an enjoyable as well as educational read.
Rollicking ... Thomson fleshes out each audacious attack and narrow escape with wit and insight, delving into seafaring terminology and the customs of piracy as he relates the buccaneers’ brushes with mutinies, storms, and deadly flora and fauna. By focusing on the individuals who kept accounts of the adventure, Thomson humanizes the 'Brethren of the Coast,' shedding light on their motivations, histories, and relationships ... Every action-packed page is certain to thrill connoisseurs of piracy and seafaring history.
Thomson eloquently proves Mark Twain’s oft-cited adage, 'Truth is stranger than fiction.' Thanks to lively writing and thorough research, Thomson’s pirates burst from the pages as vividly and compellingly as those in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series rule the screen ... Thomson writes in punchy, short chapters, which often end with a cliffhanger, while black-and-white illustrations and maps help readers follow the voyages. The author also helpfully defines many arcane nautical terms, including a reveal about aargh and the origin of modern words like avocado and barbecue. The entertaining suspense and high energy continue to the very end.