The best pirate books 📚

Browse the best books on Pirates as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

By Eric Jay Dolin

Why this book?

I am a sucker for a good non-fiction book, especially if it features pirates. Ever since childhood, growing up in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, the water called to me, and learning about real-life pirates and the history kept me reading late into the night. Black Flags, Blue Waters is the epic history of America’s most notorious pirates and it tells riveting tales that are almost unbelievable. While non-fiction, the stories are so enthralling, it almost reads like they can’t possibly be true.  

From the list:

The best books to fulfill your pirate fantasies

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

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

By David Cordingly

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on the real Pirates of the Caribbean

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Book cover of Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates

By Robert C. Ritchie

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on piracy and pirates

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

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

By Colin Woodard

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books that give the outlaws a say

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

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

By Donald G. Shomette

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on piracy and pirates

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Book cover of Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

By L.A. Meyer

Why this book?

Mary "Jacky" Faber, an orphaned street kid in early 19th century London, begins her adventures across the seven seas by dressing up as a ship's boy. Throughout the series she builds up quite the amazing resume that would put a Navy Seal to shame. And of course, there is a bit of romance here and there but the focus lies on Jacky sailing the world and kicking butt!

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