89 books like Under the Black Flag

By David Cordingly,

Here are 89 books that Under the Black Flag fans have personally recommended if you like Under the Black Flag. 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 A General History of the Pirates

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?

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…

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.


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

Rebecca Simon Author Of Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kidd and How He Changed Piracy Forever

From my list on the lives of pirates.

Why am I passionate about this?

I always had an interest in pirates, being a SoCal native who went to Disneyland every year, and history was always my favorite subject in school. I went on to grad school and decided to make piracy my subject. My Master’s was about how the novel Treasure Island changed perceptions of piracy. I then continued my studies and earned my doctorate at King’s College London in 2017 about public executions of pirates and their cultural/legal representations in the British-Atlantic World. Since then, I have been featured on numerous podcasts such as History Hit, History Extra, and You’re Dead To Me, and on documentaries such as BBC’s Britain’s Rogues, History Channels Oak Island, and Netflix’s Lost Pirate Kingdom while publishing both academic and popular articles before my first book.

Rebecca's book list on the lives of pirates

Rebecca Simon Why did Rebecca love this book?

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!

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…


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

Len Travers Author Of The Notorious Edward Low: Pursuing the Last Great Villain of Piracy's Golden Age

From my list on curing you of DPS (Disney Pirate Syndrome).

Why am I passionate about this?

Let's face it: pirates of the Golden Age are just cool. No one would actually want to encounter them, but they have been the stuff of escapist dreams since childhood. Adventure, fellowship, treasure–the “romantic” aspects of piracy are what make these otherwise nasty individuals anti-heroes par excellence. As an adult and academic and as an occasional crewman on square riggers, I adopted pirates as a favorite sub-set of maritime history. As with other aspects of the past, I view the history of pirates and piracy as really two narratives: what the records tell us happened and why and what our persistent fascination with them reveals about us.

Len's book list on curing you of DPS (Disney Pirate Syndrome)

Len Travers Why did Len love this book?

I first read Rediker’s work as a graduate student, and from the first pages, I was “hooked.”

Want to understand what made pirates tick? In this book, pirates are recast not as violent, unthinking brutes but as ordinary, sea-going laboring men driven to lawlessness by the brutal demands of expanding Atlantic trade.

I especially appreciated Rediker’s situating pirate behavior and customs within the broader world of maritime life. He argues that these outlawed men created a floating society that was then the most egalitarian and democratic in the Western world.

By Marcus Rediker,

Why should I read it?

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

Thomas M. Truxes Author Of Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York

From my list on 18th century mariners.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since the publication of my first book in 1988, my emphasis has always been on history as “story.” That is, the stories of men and women in past centuries with whom we share a common humanity but who faced challenges very different from our own. My goal is to bring their stories to as wide an audience as possible. Whether they describe Newfoundland fisherman in the 17th-century North Atlantic, expatriate Irish men and women in 18th-century Bordeaux, or colonial New Yorkers defying British authority on the eve of the American Revolution, the common theme is the impact of trade and the sea on the lives of ordinary people.

Thomas' book list on 18th century mariners

Thomas M. Truxes Why did Thomas love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Pirates!

Barbara Sjoholm Author Of The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea

From my list on women seafarers and pirates.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Long Beach, California and have always gravitated to port towns and saltwater. I had a summer job as a student working on the famous Hurtigruten cargo ship and traveled up and down the Norwegian coast as a dishwasher. Since then I’ve kayaked, sailed, and wandered the shores of many countries, including the Pacific Northwest, where I live now. Being Irish and Swedish myself, I wanted to make women’s history as seafarers in the cold waters of the North better known. I had a great time researching this travel book about little-known places and women skippers, fishers, and sea goddesses. 

Barbara's book list on women seafarers and pirates

Barbara Sjoholm Why did Barbara love this book?

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. 

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. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

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…


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

Julie Walker Author Of Bonny & Read

From my list on female pirates and their inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed by the story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read since I heard about them in an Adam Ant song "Five Guns West". I know more than is good for me about pirates and wanted to share some of the fantastic books that inspired me when I wrote the novel Bonny & Read. Eighty years before Pride and Prejudice was written there were women armed with cutlasses roaming the Caribbean looking for ships to plunder – I want to give everyone the opportunity to learn more about this incredible hidden history.

Julie's book list on female pirates and their inspiration

Julie Walker Why did Julie love this book?

Anne Bonny and Mary Read weren’t history’s only female pirates – though you’ll find them here alongside some lesser-known names.

From Artemisia in Ancient Greece, though to Grace O’Malley, Cheng I Sao, and more, you’ll find stories on what drove these women to sea, and the freedom it offered them alongside the risks. Fascinating.

By Jo Stanley (editor),

Why should I read it?

4 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,…


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

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.

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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