Saturday, November 20, 2010

Piracy & Plunder: A Murderous Businesss, by Milton Meltzer

(hb; 2001: children's book. Illustrations by Bruce Waldman)

From the inside flap:

"When people think of pirates, they usually envision swashbuckling, adventurous figures who spend their time searching for buried treasure. This is a distorted, romantic view that has come down to us. In reality, pirates were little more than thieves and murderers, dedicated to robbery, pillage, and enslavement. Their business was a continuous, organized activity -- from which both nations and individuals benefited. People eagerly bought plunder from pirates, and perhaps the most profitable of all were men and women pirates enslaved.

"Milton Meltzer. . . uncovers the true -- and often bloody, always fascinating -- stories of pirates and piracy, both past and present. Here are portraits of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and other notorious pirates, including women like Ching Shih and Mary Read. Here are also forms of piracy that still plague us today, such as smuggling and copyright infringement. . ."


I read this as a research book for a story I'm working on, and was delighted by how well written this was: I'd read this, even if it wasn't for research purposes.

This is an excellent, intriguing, informative read. My only caveat about this book is that it does briefly mention rape and, to a larger extent, slavery (though not in "adult" detail) -- so, if any parents have younger/sensitive children, and wish to avoid potentially awkward conversations, they may want to wait until their children are older - say, about tween age - to let them read this.

Worth owning, this.

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