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.
A General History of the Pirates
Why should I read it?
3 authors picked A General History of the Pirates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.
What is this book about?
A General History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson was published in 1724. As the primary source of biographies of some of the most notorious pirates it influenced popular conceptions of the lifestyles. Missing legs or eyes, burying treasure and the name of the pirates flag the Jolly Roger was introduced in this touchstone of pirate lore as it has been incorporated into popular culture. A General History of the Pyrates has influencing literature and movies to this day.
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