A General History of the Pyrates: Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates
By Daniel Defoe, Captain Charles Johnson
Why this book?
First published in 1724, and expanded in subsequent years, A General History is the granddaddy of all pirate books. It focuses mainly on those pirates who sailed the seas between the late 1710s and the mid-1720s, but also reaches as far back as the late 1600s. All the “celebrity” pirates are here, including Henry Avery (or Every), Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Stede Bonnet, and Sam Bellamy. And their stories are told with considerable panache. It is undeniable, however, that Johnson entirely made up a number of things, added literary embellishments, and took liberties with many of the quotes he ascribed to pirates. Nevertheless, much of his history is corroborated by the contemporary documents that he clearly used to construct his mini-biographies of the most famous pirates of the day. And this is the first major book on pirates ever written. Johnson has been widely relied on by pirate historians for centuries, and, judiciously used, he is an indispensable source.
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