Recommend Books on Pirate History

One of the frequent questions asked online in general public discussions of pirate history is “What books do you recommend on pirate history?”  Below is a list of books on the subject with brief descriptions of their content and qualities.  Each of the titles reviewed here features a link to for convenience.

Introductory and General Topic Books

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Piratesby David Cordingly

In the 1990s, David Cordingly’s work on historical pirates helped revive public interest in pirate history. His book, Under the Black Flag, presents much of the work presented in those efforts in an accessible style for mainstream readers. Cordingly presents a variety of topics on pirate history, including myths concerning pirates, Hollywood’s relationship to pirate history, general aspects of pirate life, and quick surveys of several pirates in history, including Henry Morgan and Captain Kidd. While the errors in his text and strange organization of his topics can be hindering at times, it is still a serviceable general introduction to pirate history.  Specifically, this book will greatly assist anyone who never read about pirate history and has only encountered them in the way Hollywood presents piracy.  The first chapter is particularly effective in dispelling many of the myths and Hollywood stereotypes that conflict with the historical record. For academic historians, Under the Black Flag is also a valuable piece since it is significant for those studying the historiography of pirate history. Continue reading