98 books like A General History of the Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

Here are 98 books that A General History of the Pirates fans have personally recommended if you like A General History of the Pirates. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates

Wendy K. Perriman Author Of Fire on Dark Water

From my list on the real Pirates of the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with pirates began as a student in Bristol (UK) – the legendary hometown of Edward Teach a.k.a. Blackbeard. Later, I visited the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas and was amazed to learn there had been women buccaneers too. I wanted to discover more about these daring females and find out what might have enticed them to brave a tenuous life on the account. As fate would have it, I now live in North Carolina near the Outer Banks where Blackbeard met his fate. These experiences inspired me to write a different kind of adventure story about the real pirates of the Caribbean featuring a strong, resilient, swashbuckling female.

Wendy's book list on the real Pirates of the Caribbean

Wendy K. Perriman Why did Wendy love this book?

David Cordingly’s book is useful for its accurate and lively attempt to separate pirate facts from public fiction. He sifts through childhood tales of wooden legs and parrots to highlight the harsh realities experienced by most of these violent rogues. The tortures he describes serve to remind the reader that these were desperate times full of volatile career criminals. And the women were often as dangerous as their male counterparts! While considering Anne Bonny and Mary Read, he questions “Were there other women pirates?” and “How was it possible for a woman to pass herself off as a man in the cramped and primitive conditions on board an eighteenth-century ship?” These prompts helped me to focus on the issues my own female protagonist would have to overcome during her nautical adventures. I recommend this book because it is informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

By David Cordingly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Under the Black Flag as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book sets out to discover the truth behind the stereotypical image of the pirate. Examining the rich literary and cultural legacy of piratical icons from Blackbeard to Captain Hook, the author compares the legends with their historical counterparts and comes up with some surprising conclusions. In a wider overview of the piracy myth, he explores its enduring and extraordinary appeal and assesses the reality behind the romance, answering in the process questions such as: why did men become pirates; were there any women pirates; how much money did they make from their plundering and looting; what effect did their…


Book cover of Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

From my list on piracy and pirates.

Why am I passionate about this?

The origin story for Black Flags, Blue Waters begins with my kids. After I finished my last book, Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse, I began searching for a new book topic. I asked Lily and Harry, who were then in their teens, what I should write about. When I raised the possibility of pirates, their eyes lit up, both of them saying, “That’s it, you have to write about pirates.” Lily even threw out two possible titles for the book: “Swords, Sails, and Swashbucklers;” and “Argh”— or, perhaps more emphatically, “Arrrgh”— which, I had to tell Lily, much to her chagrin, is a word that probably was never uttered by a Golden Age pirate, and is more likely a creation of movies in which pirates dispense arghs with relish. My children’s strong support is, of course, not the only reason I wrote Black Flags, Blue Waters -- if my publisher hadn't been as enthusiastic about the idea as I was, the book might never have been written. But the fact that my kids were early adopters of the pirate idea, was definitely encouraging.

Eric's book list on piracy and pirates

Eric Jay Dolin Why did Eric love this book?

Captain William Kidd is one of the most fascinating characters in modern history. Ritchie, an academic historian by training, produced a highly readable book that places Kidd within his era, describing in often fascinating detail the events and people of the time and how they affected Kidd’s life and the course of piracy. This is a book that focuses on the late 1600s and very early 1700s, and, therefore, does not cover the 1710s and 1720s, when the real pirates of the Caribbean terrorized the Atlantic. After reading the book, you can decide if Kidd was a pirate or just a misunderstood privateer who got railroaded by the English government.

By Robert C. Ritchie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legends that die hardest are those of the romantic outlaw, and those of swashbuckling pirates are surely among the most durable. Swift ships, snug inns, treasures buried by torchlight, palm-fringed beaches, fabulous riches, and, most of all, freedom from the mean life of the laboring man are the stuff of this tradition reinforced by many a novel and film.

It is disconcerting to think of such dashing scoundrels as slaves to economic forces, but so they were-as Robert Ritchie demonstrates in this lively history of piracy. He focuses on the shadowy figure of William Kidd, whose career in the…


Book cover of The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down

Laura Nelson Author Of The Water Tiger

From my list on pirates (fact and fiction).

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in pirates began after attending the Real Pirates exhibit in Denver, Colorado, in 2011. All I can say now is that while I walked through the exhibit, I felt as though the pirates were personally speaking to me, asking me to tell the world their stories. I wrote several non-fiction articles about some of the men who sailed with Sam Bellamy on the Whydah Galley, the vessel featured in the exhibit. The writing and research were fun and fulfilling. In the last few years, I moved into fiction because I like reading fantasy myself and I wanted to explore the freedom of writing without having to document everything I wrote about.

Laura's book list on pirates (fact and fiction)

Laura Nelson Why did Laura love this book?

This was one of the first books I read as part of my research about pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy.

It has a bibliography and footnotes, but it reads more like an adventure novel. You can read it for research, entertainment, or both. Everything in this book really happened. It’s one of the best starting points for someone to learn about piracy in the early 1700s.

By Colin Woodard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Republic of Pirates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An entrancing tale of piracy colored with gold, treachery and double-dealing (Portland Press Herald), Pulitzer Prize-finalist Colin Woodward's The Republic of Pirates is the historical biography of the exploits of infamous Caribbean buccaneers.

In the early eighteenth century, the Pirate Republic was home to some of the great pirate captains, including Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, "Black Sam" Bellamy, and Charles Vane. Along with their fellow pirates — former sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves — this "Flying Gang" established a crude but distinctive democracy in the Bahamas, carving out their own zone of freedom in which servants were free, blacks could…


Book cover of Pirates on the Chesapeake: Being a True History of Pirates, Picaroons, and Raiders on Chesapeake Bay, 1610-1807

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

From my list on piracy and pirates.

Why am I passionate about this?

The origin story for Black Flags, Blue Waters begins with my kids. After I finished my last book, Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse, I began searching for a new book topic. I asked Lily and Harry, who were then in their teens, what I should write about. When I raised the possibility of pirates, their eyes lit up, both of them saying, “That’s it, you have to write about pirates.” Lily even threw out two possible titles for the book: “Swords, Sails, and Swashbucklers;” and “Argh”— or, perhaps more emphatically, “Arrrgh”— which, I had to tell Lily, much to her chagrin, is a word that probably was never uttered by a Golden Age pirate, and is more likely a creation of movies in which pirates dispense arghs with relish. My children’s strong support is, of course, not the only reason I wrote Black Flags, Blue Waters -- if my publisher hadn't been as enthusiastic about the idea as I was, the book might never have been written. But the fact that my kids were early adopters of the pirate idea, was definitely encouraging.

Eric's book list on piracy and pirates

Eric Jay Dolin Why did Eric love this book?

While this book focuses on piracy in the Chesapeake Bay region, its coverage is much broader than that. Shomette highlights many of the most important themes running through the history of piracy, and he does an excellent job giving the reader the broader context of what was happening in society at large and how that influenced and was influenced by piracy. Shomette’s extensive reliance on primary sources and his use of quotes by the historical figures he profiles, greatly enlivens the text and gives it the stamp of authenticity. And since this book drills down deep into the pirate history of one region, there are many stories here that will be new to those who have only read much broader histories on piracy.

By Donald G. Shomette,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pirates on the Chesapeake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dazzling array of swashbuckling pirates, picaroons, and sea rovers are pitted against the often feckless representatives of an outpost government authority in the Chesapeake Bay region. It is an exciting and dramatic two hundred-year history that begins grimly with the "starving time" in the Virginia colony in 1609, and ends with the peaceful resolution of the Othello affair with the French in 1807. In between lies a full panoply of violent and bizarre buccaneering incidents that one is hard pressed to imagine from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. Documented by impressive research in articles of the Netherlands,…


Book cover of Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

Katie Crabb Author Of Sailing by Orion's Star

From my list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a librarian and a writer with a passion for history and challenging the narrative, because sometimes, the things the history books tell us aren’t the whole story. After all, history belongs to the victor, doesn’t it? Finding and writing stories that explore historical lives beyond royals and the wealthy is what I love, and I’m always looking for more books that do this. I started reading historical fiction as a child, delving into things like the Dear America and American Girl series, that told the stories of everyday people in these grand moments of history, and reading those books inspired me to write my own.

Katie's book list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens

Katie Crabb Why did Katie love this book?

This is my nonfiction pick for this list, and one of my favorite books on any historical period, ever. This was a foundational text for my own trilogy set in the golden age of piracy, and at least half of it is underlined and filled with my excited notes. This book takes on the period through what Rediker calls “history from below” exploring the lives of pirates, sailors, enslaved people, and those fighting against empires and the damaging effects of colonization in the 18th century. It stands against the depiction of pirates as lazy thieves, and instead paints a picture of social and economic rebellion. The pirates weren’t perfect, but they were building something of their own in juxtaposition to the rampant abuses of the era. 

By Marcus Rediker,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Villains of All Nations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pirates have long been stock figures in popular culture, from Treasure Island to the more recent antics of Jack Sparrow. Villains of all Nations unearths the thrilling historical truth behind such fictional characters and rediscovers their radical democratic challenge to the established powers of the day.


Book cover of Elizabethan Privateering: English Privateering During the Spanish War, 1585 1603

Claire Jowitt Author Of The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime

From my list on pirates in the age of sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer-researcher based at the University of East Anglia. My work is driven by a love of travel and the sea, and an interest in how people move between cultures and ideas across time. I’ve written widely on early modern travel writing and maritime culture, plays about cultural encounter including first contact, and the intersections between ideas about gender, race, colonial and/or imperial identities, and power. At heart, I’m a cultural historian interested in how people and writing can say one thing but mean another.

Claire's book list on pirates in the age of sail

Claire Jowitt Why did Claire love this book?

This study is a model of how to use meticulous archival research – here in the records of the High Court of Admiralty – to make a powerful argument with far-reaching implications: that many of Elizabethan England’s principal merchants and highest-ranking members of the court, including the queen, invested in and profited from extra-legal activities, and that England’s capitalist system was based on theft from European rivals. Andrews’ achievement is to explain clearly the ways the court operated and what its records – depositions and testimonies, complaints and interrogations, and summaries of activities – can tell us. Using information about who was licensed as a privateer and when, how plunder was distributed, and the international disputes caused by the depredations of privateers and pirates, Andrews book exemplifies how economic and naval history can be brought into productive dialogue.

By Kenneth R. Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Elizabethan Privateering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Privateering was a form of legal private warfare at sea in which individuals who possessed suitable ships took the opportunity offered by a war to plunder enemy commerce. In this study of privateering during the Elizabethan war with Spain, which was originally published in 1966, Dr Andrews shows that it was closely connected with trade, in particular having a stimulating effect on oceanic commerce and that it was at the time the main form of English maritime warfare. Dr Andrews begins with an account of how privateering became legal and how it was organised. He then examines the various types…


Book cover of A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900

Claire Jowitt Author Of The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime

From my list on pirates in the age of sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer-researcher based at the University of East Anglia. My work is driven by a love of travel and the sea, and an interest in how people move between cultures and ideas across time. I’ve written widely on early modern travel writing and maritime culture, plays about cultural encounter including first contact, and the intersections between ideas about gender, race, colonial and/or imperial identities, and power. At heart, I’m a cultural historian interested in how people and writing can say one thing but mean another.

Claire's book list on pirates in the age of sail

Claire Jowitt Why did Claire love this book?

This book uses seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century piracy as one of its case studies to make innovative arguments about global history. Through a discussion of piracy, Benton seeks to transform our understanding of the significance of oceanic space. Though empires might assert control over territories and their inhabitants, in fact, their jurisdiction, or sovereignty, was uneven – thinner in some places than others, and only realized in fits and starts.


For Benton, the spatial figure of the corridor as a conduit for law and jurisdiction is vital to understanding the geography and movement of early modern imperial power. Inconsistencies in the application of prize law, the regulation of privateering, and the prosecution of piracy graphically show the unevenness of sovereignty at sea and the ways by which all types of mariner attempted to mark out jurisdictional corridors as they traversed the world's waters.

By Lauren Benton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Search for Sovereignty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Search for Sovereignty approaches world history by examining the relation of law and geography in European empires between 1400 and 1900. Lauren Benton argues that Europeans imagined imperial space as networks of corridors and enclaves, and that they constructed sovereignty in ways that merged ideas about geography and law. Conflicts over treason, piracy, convict transportation, martial law, and crime created irregular spaces of law, while also attaching legal meanings to familiar geographic categories such as rivers, oceans, islands, and mountains. The resulting legal and spatial anomalies influenced debates about imperial constitutions and international law both in the colonies and…


Book cover of Women and English Piracy, 1540-1720: Partners and Victims of Crime

Claire Jowitt Author Of The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime

From my list on pirates in the age of sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer-researcher based at the University of East Anglia. My work is driven by a love of travel and the sea, and an interest in how people move between cultures and ideas across time. I’ve written widely on early modern travel writing and maritime culture, plays about cultural encounter including first contact, and the intersections between ideas about gender, race, colonial and/or imperial identities, and power. At heart, I’m a cultural historian interested in how people and writing can say one thing but mean another.

Claire's book list on pirates in the age of sail

Claire Jowitt Why did Claire love this book?

Studies of early modern piracy often either focus on one or two exceptional women – Elizabeth I, Gráinne Ní Mháille, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read – or neglect women altogether. This book challenges assumptions about early modern women’s contribution to and involvement with piracy, exploring how female lives intersected with it in numerous and nuanced ways. Female family members often acted as receivers and dealers of stolen goods: their involvement shows agency in relation to piracy, though female victimization was also common. In fact, partnerships with women were part of the wider patterns of support pirates received from seafaring communities; familial relationships often triggered female involvement since economic integration and domestic connections were linked in the maritime world. Appleby suggests that due to the changing nature of piracy, female agency diminished by the end of the seventeenth century.

By John C. Appleby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and English Piracy, 1540-1720 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Piracy was one of the most gendered criminal activities during the early modern period. As a form of maritime enterprise and organized criminality, it attracted thousands of male recruits whose venturing acquired a global dimension as piratical activity spread across the oceans and seas of the world. At the same time, piracy affected the lives of women in varied ways. Adopting a fresh approach to the subject, this study explores the relationships and contacts between women and pirates during a prolonged period of intense and shifting enterprise. Drawing on a wide body of evidence and based on English and Anglo-American…


Book cover of Treasure Island

Amelia Vergara Author Of Firefax

From my list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a physician assistant and paramedic with ten brothers and sisters, an all-consuming love of the outdoors and adventure, and a fascination with history, particularly early US history. I love reading and writing the kind of books that I would like to read. My debut novel, Firefax, was written in large part as an escape from the horrors of serving in the hospital as a physician assistant during the delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope it provides my readers with an escape from their own struggles as well. 

Amelia's book list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure

Amelia Vergara Why did Amelia love this book?

From the very first time my mother read this story to my siblings and me as youngsters, I was hooked. The excellent 1990 adaptation featuring Christian Bale and Charlton Heston also served to fuel our youthful imaginations and we spent countless hours play-acting the story together on our farm. 

This tale, full of twists and intrigue, features a fascinating group of characters pitted against perhaps the greatest villain in all of literature, Long John Silver; a wily, cunning man who you both root for and against throughout the novel. The adventure keeps going at a breakneck pace as we follow Jim Hawkins journey from boy to man as he tries to outwit the most dangerous pirate in the world.

This is the kind of high adventure and escapism that readers crave, and Stevenson delivers to a satisfying conclusion.

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Treasure Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Penguin presents the audio CD edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Following the demise of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. For he has discovered a map that will lead him to the fabled Treasure Island. But a host of villains, wild beasts and deadly savages stand between him and the stash of gold. Not to mention the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas . . .


Book cover of The Buccaneers of America

Virginia Chandler Author Of The Devil's Treasure: The Complete Tale

From my list on pirates, history, and legend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a real pirate, at least not most of the time, but as a kid, I wanted to be one. I was firmly in love with the romantic “Robin Hood” type legends of the pirate kings. As an adult, the love for all things pirate became a fascination with the pirate archetype, pirate history, and pirate legend. But, honestly, for me, it’s the mystery. There are so many mysteries involving pirates: Where did they hide their treasure? Was there a secret pirate kingdom called Libertalia? Were there pirate curses? This prompted me to research and write The Devil’s Treasure, inspired by the need to know, the need to solve, the need to conquer. 

Virginia's book list on pirates, history, and legend

Virginia Chandler Why did Virginia love this book?

While researching for my own book, and feeding my own passion for all things pirate, I was surprised and then curious to learn that the term “buccaneer” of the high seas refers to a different tribe, if you will, of the pirate brotherhood. This text was first published in 1678 and is a firsthand, eyewitness account, of buccaneer activities by the author himself, Alexander Exquemelin. The author claims, (and there is no reason to doubt him, by the way), that he was “employed” as a surgeon with a group of buccaneers and what follows in the text are his harrowing, and fascinating, observations of life as a buccaneer in the 17th century. This is another “must-have” and “must-read” for the modern-day pirate.

By Alexander O. Exquemelin, Alexis Brown (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Buccaneers of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cross between genuine privateers, commissioned to defend a country's colonies and trade, and outright pirates, buccaneers were largely English, French, and Dutch adventurers who plied the waters among the Caribbean Islands and along the coasts of Central America, Venezuela, and Colombia more than 300 years ago. The activities of these bands of plundering sea rovers reached a peak in the second half of the seventeenth century, when this remarkable eyewitness account was first published (1678).
Alexander Exquemelin, thought to be a Frenchman who enlisted with the buccaneers for a time, chronicles the bold feats of these raiders as they…


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