Pirates scholar, Rebecca Simon, PhD, explains how the global manhunt for Captain Kidd turned pirates into the romantic antiheroes we love today.
Crime and punishment. During his life and after his death, Captain William Kidd’s name was well known in England and the American colonies. He was infamous for the crime for which he was hanged, piracy. Rebecca Simon dives into the details of the two-year manhunt for Captain Kidd. Captain Kidd was hanged in 1701, followed by a massive British-led hunt for all pirates during a period known as the Golden Age of Piracy. Ironically, public executions only increased the popularity of pirates. And, because the American colonies relied on pirates for smuggled goods such as spices, wines, and silks; pirates tended to be protected from capture.
All things pirates. The more pirates were hunted and executed, the more people became supportive of the “Robin Hoods of the Sea”―both because they saw the British’s treatment of them as an injustice and because they treasured the goods pirates brought to them. These historical events were pivotal in creating the portrayal of pirates as we know them today. They grew into romantic antiheroes―which ultimately led to characters like the mischievous but lovable Captain Jack Sparrow.
- One of the most famous pirates in history
- Real life pirates and the brutal executions they faced
- The origin of our romanticized view of pirates
If you enjoyed books like Black Flags Blue Waters, Under the Black Flag, The Republic of Pirates, or Villains of All Nations, you’ll love Why We Love Pirates.
I learned so much from reading this book. It was like being in a lecture by your Fun Professor whose enthusiasm for the subject is contagious. It’s clear that the book was well sourced and all of the info is presented in an accessible manner. Of all of the pirates covered in the book, my favorites were Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Definite recommend.
This is a light, easy and very enjoyable read on the subject of piracy and its effect on the culture of the day and the culture of our day too. None too heavy on dates and places, just enough to keep the flavor alive for the reader. What sets this apart is the look at the society around piracy, English, Caribbean and North American. A perfect book for those just beginning to look into piracy or those wanting to look beyond cutlasses and doubloons.
This book gave me a whole new insight on who pirates actually were. I also learned that people have always been interested in piracy. This book was so fascinating and very informative. I never knew how much info there was on pirates. The author did loads of research and still made this a very accessible piece of history.
Jeromy M. French
We all love pirates but this breaks down our fascination with pirates. It’s well researched, but also admits the limits of research. Readability is really high. The prose flows really well which makes it hard to put down. Highly recommended.
My boyfriend loves this book!! Made a great gift, he thought he knew everything about pirates until he read this. Top notch.
Dr. Brandon Tachco
This exciting read is perfect for anyone who loves pirates, history, or just a good story! Dr. Simon eloquently outlines not just our cultural fascination with pirates, but also the complex human world that was pirating in the Caribbean.Pirates were all of us. From aristocrats to former slaves, they could be brutal or charitable. They could be men or women. They could be both justly and unjustly accused of their crimes. But, like most of us, they were more often working people just trying to make a living to support a family and community waiting for them back home.Also, who can’t relate to people who enjoy a good glass of grog?
I bought this for my boyfriend, he really loves pirates and told me that he really enjoyed read it and even recommended it to more people.
(This review also appears on the Audible page as that is the format of my purchased copy of WWLP.)As the author of the pirate novel,”Black Hearts White Bones,” I had to give Rebecca Simon’s “Why We Love Pirates” a listen. Having spent countless hours researching the life and times of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, I wondered how her work would hold up to the breadth of knowledge I have acquired over the years. In short, I am greatly impressed and pleased. Impressed, because she has put more factual and relevant pirate history into one body of work than any other source I have come across. Pleased, because her research confirms the factual aspects of pirate history that are woven into my work of fiction.Years ago, when I began writing BHWB, there were few credible sources to draw from. While factual information pertaining to Bonny and Read is still rare, Simon did an excellent job of cutting through the myths and legends and gives us the unvarnished facts…as she does with all the pirates covered in her nonfiction. And while my attention was focused on Bonny and Read — understandably so — Simon’s body of work gives readers/listeners a tangible taste and feel for what it was like to be a pirate…any pirate, male or female. It is hard for me to estimate how much time I could have saved conducting research had “Why We Love Pirates” existed before I began writing my novel, but I know it would have been significant.All of this is my way of saying that, everyone who loves the lore of pirates will want to make WWLP part of their library and an essential reference, not only regarding pirate history but for the pop culture associated with pirates today. Well done, Rebecca Simon (and Kate Mulligan for the excellent performance). If we ever meet, the first bottle of rum is on me!Bill Furney
Rebecca Simon has a lifelong love of pirates, and in this slim volume dedicated to them, she explains why, indeed, we ALL love pirates. Through reading the scarce primary sources, Simon explains the origins of all the cool little tropes that make pirates entertaining–walking the plank, buried treasure, peglegs, etc.–along the way exposing which ones are true and which are fantasies created by people writing about pirates. Her central character in this is Captain William Kidd who, during his short career, became the focus on a manhunt that enthralled English audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, and who serves as a token for the intense contemporary public interest in pirates and piracy. I have some minor quibbles, but those are mostly due to my own idiosyncrasies as a reader and to the tragic exclusion of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s “Pirates” from the section on media. If you love pirates, and you KNOW you love pirates, do yourself a favor and give this a read.
I absolutely LOVED this book. As a pirate history fanatic, I am constantly on the lookout for fresh insights into this niche realm of history. Dr. Simon’s work is thoroughly researched and written in a narrative format so most of the time you feel as if you’re reading an adventure novel when in fact you’re really just going through the incredible history of the pirates.Her resources in the back of the book are ESSENTIAL for anyone looking to read the primary sources themselves or anyone seeking to continue the adventure.Easily one of the best overall studies on pirates. This is a must.