10 books like Under the Black Flag

By David Cordingly,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Under the Black Flag. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A General History of the Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

Book cover of A General History of the Pirates

If you want to know the “history” of ye olde pirates, this is the penultimate of pirate history books. A General History of the Pirates was first published in 1724 for a surprisingly eager audience of readers. Daniel Defoe was, (and is), known for his fiction, such as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, so he was a popular author at the time. However, it could not have been predicted that readers were so interested in the details concerning the scourge of the high seas, our beloved “bloodthirsty” pirates. Yet, this book, despite it being a flamboyant and rather colorful embellishment of actual pirate activity, was and remains a popular title. Every pirate fan, and certainly pirate historian, has at least one copy of this text on a shelf or table nearby. I always have my copy close at hand and referred to this text frequently while authoring my book…

A General History of the Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

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.


Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

By Robert C. Ritchie,

Book cover of Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

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.

Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

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…


The Republic of Pirates

By Colin Woodard,

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

Pirates make great bad guys, plundering their way through history as seaborne barbarians. The Republic of Pirates makes you look at infamous figures like Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, "Black Sam" Bellamy, and Charles Vane in new ways. Those pirate ships were incubators for democracy, marked by equal rights for all races and leadership elections. Compared to the slave-trading empires that the pirates attacked, the pirate ships were bastions of freedom before (and in some ways better) the American Revolution canonized them in the Declaration of Independence. It just goes to show, you’re only an outlaw or a rebel if you’re caught or defeated.  

The Republic of Pirates

By Colin Woodard,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


Pirates on the Chesapeake

By Donald G. Shomette,

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

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.

Pirates on the Chesapeake

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,…


Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740

By Mark G. Hanna,

Book cover of Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740

This book is pretty recent, having been published in 2015. In my opinion, it is the best book ever written about Atlantic piracy. Hanna dissects pirates to examine who they were and why they became pirates. What is unique about this work, is that he argues that pirates were just as significant on land as they were at sea. Without pirates, there would be no rise of a British Empire in the American colonies. This book was released during the last year of my doctoral research and I probably would not have been as successful in its completion without Pirate Nests!

Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740

By Mark G. Hanna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Analyzing the rise and subsequent fall of international piracy from the perspective of colonial hinterlands, Mark G. Hanna explores the often overt support of sea marauders in maritime communities from the inception of England's burgeoning empire in the 1570s to its administrative consolidation by the 1740s. Although traditionally depicted as swashbuckling adventurers on the high seas, pirates played a crucial role on land. Far from a hindrance to trade, their enterprises contributed to commercial development and to the economic infrastructure of port towns.

English piracy and unregulated privateering flourished in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean because of…


Villains of All Nations

By Marcus Rediker,

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

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. 

Villains of All Nations

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.


Young Men and the Sea

By Daniel Vickers, Vince Walsh,

Book cover of Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail

The sea figured prominently in early American life.  Westward expansion is a dominant theme in American history, but as historian Daniel Vickers demonstrates, the horizon extended in all directions. For those who lived along the Atlantic coast, it was the East — and the Atlantic Ocean — that beckoned. In Young Men and the Sea, seafaring is a normal part of life. Drawing on the records of thousands of mariners sailing from Salem, Massachusetts, Vickers offers a fascinating social history of early American seafaring.  In what sort of families were sailors raised? When did they go to sea?  What were their chances of death? Whom did they marry, and how did their wives operate households in their absence? This book is destined to become a classic of American social history.

Young Men and the Sea

By Daniel Vickers, Vince Walsh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Young Men and the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two centuries of American maritime history, in which the Atlantic Ocean remained the great frontier.

Two centuries of American maritime history, in which the Atlantic Ocean remained the great frontier Westward expansion has been the great narrative of the first two centuries of American history, but as historian Daniel Vickers demonstrates here, the horizon extended in all directions. For those who lived along the Atlantic coast, it was the East-and the Atlantic Ocean-that beckoned. While historical and fictional accounts have tended to stress the exceptional circumstances or psychological compulsions that drove men to sea, this book shows how normal a…


Pirates!

By Celia Rees,

Book cover of Pirates!

Pirates! Historical fiction for young adults and anyone who enjoys a sea story with twists and turns aplenty, this novel begins in Bristol, England in the eighteenth century. Nancy Kingston’s father is a shipowner whose money comes from sugar plantations and enslaved labor in Jamaica. A tragedy makes sixteen-year-old Nancy his heiress; her brothers send her to the West Indies to marry. But life takes a surprising turn; she and the enslaved maid Minerva, escape to become pirates in the Caribbean. If you’re looking for an absorbing, multicultural tale of girls who go in search of adventure and freedom amidst the horrors of plantation life, this is a must-read. According to the author the novel is based on a true story, which makes it even more fascinating. 

Pirates!

By Celia Rees,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pirates! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the bestselling and award-winning WITCH CHILD, comes another outstanding historical novel.

When two young women meet under extraordinary circumstances in the eighteenth-century West Indies, they are unified in their desire to escape their oppressive lives. The first is a slave, forced to work in a plantation mansion and subjected to terrible cruelty at the hands of the plantation manager. The second is a spirited and rebellious English girl, sent to the West Indies to marry well.

But fate ensures that one night the two young women have to save each other and run away to a…


Bold in Her Breeches

By Jo Stanley (editor),

Book cover of Bold in Her Breeches: Woman Pirates Across the Ages

When I was a little girl I wanted to grow up to be a pirate, and women pirates in particular inspired me. They still do. This collection expands on some of the well-known pirates like Ann Bonny, Mary Read, and Grace O’Malley, and brings diversity with tales of non-European pirates who ruled fleets of ships. When I’m writing my pirates, I can look at the historical record and know that while my work is fiction, there’s plenty of historical evidence for women seizing command and carrying the day.

Bold in Her Breeches

By Jo Stanley (editor),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bold in Her Breeches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As far back as 480 BC, when Artemisia commanded her Greek trireme, women have taken to the high seas in pursuit of life and liberty. Simultaneously revered and reviled by superstitious male mariners, the realities of these women pirates' lives have been lost in a murky fog of sexual and racial preconceptions.
Bold in her Breeches takes a wholly fresh look at these mythical figures and places them in their true historical and cultural contexts. From Artemisia to the contemporary women pirates of today, via eighteenth-century Grace O'Malley and nineteenth-century Cheng I Sao, we learn why women took to piracy,…


A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

Book cover of A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates

It was long thought that Captain Charles Johnson was a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame), the original pirate novelist. As such, this anecdotal collection of seafaring tales may be as close to historical “primary source” material as we can get! A General History has inspired several generations of nautical poems, plays, and novels about life on the account, including Fire on Dark Water. Captain Johnson’s classic book undoubtedly raised public awareness about the lives and loves of many buccaneers and it is still a fascinating read today.

A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1724-and now with an introduction and commentary by David Cordingly, best-selling author of the pirate classic Under the Black Flag-this famous account of the most notorious pirates of the day was an immediate success. Written by the mysterious Captain Johnson, it appeared in the book world at a time since described as the "Golden Age of Piracy" and vividly captures the realities of the savage seafaring existence-detailing specific events, including trials, of the day's most feared pirates. Indeed, this book has become the main source for scholars seeking to learn more about the female pirates Mary Read…


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