Friday, April 27, 2007


Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate by Angus Konstam was slow reading for me. This was due to the fact that I started this book with zero previous knowledge about pirates and Konstam is an expert. While I was approaching Blackbeard with the glee of an 10 year old boy, looking for gory details, battles, hangings, and blood and guts, Konstram was seriously discussing the history of pirates and Blackbeard's life. Sometimes the details became a bit tedious and boring to me. Also, only about half the book is actually specifically about Blackbeard. The first half of the book covers the history of pirates.
This may have not been the best first pirate book for me to read.

From Amazon:
"Konstam, the Scottish author of more than 50 maritime history books here explores the dreaded Blackbeard, "the archetypal pirate of the age...and one of the most fearsome figures around." Konstam makes a thorough, exciting examination of 18th century pirate life, with wonderful details such as the pirates' code, which can read as a precursor to America's own Bill of Rights: "Every man has a Vote in Affairs of Monument, has equal Title to the fresh Provisions, or strong Liquors, at any Time seized & use them at pleasure." However, the author's portrait of the seadog fails for two reasons: first, very little is known about Blackbeard, and Konstam hasn't been able to uncover much that's new; "we must assume" becomes a frequent, frustrating qualifier when the book focuses on its subject. Secondly, Konstram is fond of cliches: a ruler's power base collapses "like a house of cards" while another is able to "walk the political tightrope;" and the feared pirate himself "would stop at nothing to get what he wanted." The padding necessary to produce a lengthy version of Blackbeard's story produces a work that has little of the dash and derring-do readers will expect from the biography of a pirate, and ends up painting Blackbeard less as a terror of the high seas than a bully with a big boat. Illustrations."
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What I'm planning to do is read another pirate book, Under the Black Flag. Then I have a book on Captain Kidd that will follow at some point. (I also have 2 more nonfiction virus books calling me.) This will break the fiction/nonfiction order I'm trying to follow for the year, but I think it may be time to toss that rule out. As of today I'll be reading rule free and may be reading more nonfiction for awhile.

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