Pirates by David Mitchell

Pirates by David Mitchell hits the £1 shelf in my shop.

Book Club Associates, 1976, Hardback in dust wrapper.

Illustrated with photographs, in colour & black and white. From the cover: There are few subjects that excite the curiosity of mankind more than the desperate exploits, foul doings, and diabolical careers of these monsters in human form, wrote Charles Ellms in The Pirates Own Book,one of the great best-sellers of the nineteenth century. That is still true today, but historical research has cast many doubts on the Romance of Piracy as popularized by Byron, Scott and Stevenson.

When did piracy begin, and why did it decline ? Why did men become pirates? Was piracy, like banditry, sometimes a term used indiscriminately by imperialist powers to discredit uncivilized resistance? What, if any, was the difference between a pure and a commissioned sea-robber, a pirate and a privateer? Was there a pirate way of life, and if so what was it like? Were pirates particularly bloodthirsty? How does the legend compare with the reality? These are just some of the questions answered in this lively and wide-ranging study.

Mr Mitchell covers not only the better-known figures of the Spanish Main and the South Sea, but Vikings, Arab and Malay raiders, the little-known Uskoks, and female pirates of various nations. The big names are all here Francis Drake, William Kidd, Blackbeard, Paul Jones but also Eric Bloodaxe, Simon Danziker, Rahmah bin Jabr and Ching Yih Saou. There are fascinating glimpses of piracy as part of a racial and religious crusade, and as a highly organized industry in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the ports of the North American colonies. Though more often than not they were shrewd gangsters operating with official connivance, the pirates did evolve an anarchistic life-style with a hint of social rebellion: the legend is based in fact. To complete the picture, the author makes extensive use of surviving pirate ballads, and the wide selection of illustrations includes pirate craft, portraits and battles, maps of the important areas and photographs of the sites of their settlements.

Good+ in Good+ Dust Wrapper. Gently bruised at the head of the spine and the top corners of the boards with a little wear to the dust wrapper as a result, dust wrapper is also a little dulled. Light dent to the upper board the impression of which is visible on the dust wrapper. Text complete, clean and tight but slightly musty.

Red boards with Gilt titling to the Spine.
208 pages. Index. 9¾” x 7″.

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