Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean by David Cordingly

★ ★ ★
Read for the non-fiction adventure challenge and I'll eventually figure out how to make this post a link from that book in the list.  In the meantime, a review of Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean.

David Cordingly writes about pirates.  I enjoyed his Under the Black Flag from 2006 very much so I was excited for this one.  I only rated this three stars because I didn't feel like most of the book pertained to the promised subject based on the title.  The Pirate Hunter referenced there is Woodes Rogers.  Rogers became Governor of the Bahamas with a special commission from the King to help the colony become more profitable and to take care of the pirate menace operating out of Nassau.  A significant part of the book is devoted to Rogers past as a privateer who circumnavigated the world in an attempt to capture the Spanish treasure galleon coming from Manila to Acapulco.  Assorted other adventures of his are told and much is made of his money problems.  Once he gets to Nassau, Rogers tries to rebuild the colony and commissions several captains to hunt pirates.  Over time the pirates are thinned but Rogers becomes disillusioned by lack of communication and pay from England.  He abandons Nassau to go to South Carolina for rest and then travels back to England.  After initially losing his governorship he finally regains it and goes back to Nassau again.  By this time the pirates are largely gone from the area.  So far so good, but not much 'pirate hunting' by Rogers himself.

Another large part of the book is taken up with the life and adventures of Alexander Selkirk who may have been part of Daniel Defoe's inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.  Selkirk spent large parts of his life on privateers (definition: pirate commissioned by one government to attack settlements and ships of another nation).  He chose to be marooned on an island alone and spent over four years there before another English ship came along and rescued him.  His life is followed in several different chapters and while interesting, I kept wondering what it had to do with the presumed subject of the book.  At the end of the book a substantial number of pages were employed in speculation on whether Selkirk was indeed Defoe's inspiration and if not, which other marooned men might be likely candidates.  Again, interesting but seems off-topic.

Finally, there was a whole section devoted to the life and death of Blackbeard.  Interesting but not enough detail to provide any new insights for a reader who has previous knowledge in the area of pirates, so like Selkirk it became a distraction.  Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean was not a bad book, I just felt like it lacked focus on the presumed theme.

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