Monday, 4 April 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: Spanish Gold - David Cordingly

Release Date: 04/04/11


Stories of individual pirates in the Caribbean, from Blackbeard to Calico Jack, have been the stuff of legend since the eighteenth century, but in Spanish Gold pirate expert David Cordingly at last gives us the big picture in all its bold and ruthless truth. Cordingly shows how the attacks of the buccaneers on the treasure ports of the Spanish Main, and the sacking of Panama by Sir Henry Morgan in 1671, were the prologue to an explosion of piracy which led to the establishment of a pirate colony at Nassau in the Bahamas. By 1717, so many ships had been raided and trade so badly disrupted that the merchants of London had to act. The man they selected 'to drive the pirates from their lodgement' was Captain Woodes Rogers, himself a former privateer who had sailed round the world with William Dampier the buccaneer explorer as his pilot. Woodes Rogers had captured the fabled Manila treasure galleon, and rescued Alexander Selkirk from a remote Pacific island - indeed, it was his account of Selkirk's ordeal that inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Woodes Rogers' resolute actions as Governor of the Bahamas restored order to the colony and proved a defining step in the campaign against the pirates, inspiring the fight-back against men like Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Bartholomew Roberts, all of whom died in dramatic circumstances. Played out against the background of fierce colonial rivalry between Britain, France and Spain, linked with the slave trade, the sugar plantations of the West Indies, and the fabulously rich trade in gold and silver from the New World, the true story of the rise and fall of the pirates of the Caribbean makes for a tale even more interesting and surprising than the legends themselves.


With the new Pirates of the Caribbean film out shortly, I wanted to learn a little more about the real buccaneers during the height of piracy. What David does in this book is bring the characters to life in an informative release from Bloomsbury. Add to this a wonderful writing style, prose that leap off the page and stories of daring from those the accounts of the day. Full of snippets of trivia such as the tales of Anne Bonney and Mary Read, who were a part of Calico Jack’s (Captain John Rackham 1682-1720) infamous crew this title wasn’t so much of a challenge to read but so engrossing that it was hard to put down.

All in this book was a great fun with its nuggets of information beautifully presented in a chatty style that many readers will find useful which when backed with perhaps some of the best information to date on the subject it’s an absolute must read for fans of history. Great stuff.

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