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The untold story of a heroic band of Caribbean pirates whose defiance of imperial rule inspired revolt in colonial outposts across the world In the early eighteenth century the Pirate Republic was home to some of the great pirate captains including Blackbeard 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 be eual citizens and leaders were chosen or deposed by a vote They cut off trade routes sacked slave ships and severed Europe from its New World empires and for a brief glorious period the Republic was a success

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

  1. says:

    Meticulously researched and fascinating Reads like a Hollywood box office smash hit with love and heartbreak battles and betrayal yet it’s all non fiction Tempted to flip back to the beginning and read it all over again 🖤

  2. says:

    I admit that the main reason I read this book is because of Black Sails an excellent Starz series about the golden age of the pirates in the Bahamas set as a loose preuel of RL Stevenson's Treasure Island After two seasons of me fangirling over the series' version of Charles Vane whose cheekbones and penetrating stare can melt me into a puddle of happy goo season 3 currently being aired features this guyYes that's Blackbeard aka Edward Thatch or Teach depending your source Played by the amazing Ray Stevenson whom you might recognize as Titus Pullo from Rome Yes the real Blackbeard wore three pistols There were some added theatrics too but I won't spoil those Anyway I suddenly have the itch to find out about the real Blackbeard how he lived what are his exploits and so onThen I found this book I was ecstatic since it apparently it also tells me about Vane Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Avery all legendary pirates PLUS the tragic tale of Woodes Rogers the man who presided over the Bahamas as governor at that time and saw the pirate reign dwindled If you expect an all out war between English man of wars vs pirate fleets you'll be disappointedThis happened though wink winkI expected a historical account and I was not disappointed Indeed there is a pretty extensive laundry list of various merchant vessels sloops and frigates captured by the pirates as well as the names of their captains and their cargos added with the stories where most of these were released without being harmed they all just strengthen the fact that the pirate's life were not all swashbuckling dramatic action packed adventures like the Pirates of the Carribbeans franchise or even the historically based Black Sails This is not boring it's the fact Sure broadsides were fired ships boarded swords drawn violent acts occurred but at the end it's all about pirating as in they robbed things in the sea As simple as that And if there's no use for bloodshed when the crews surrendered and the cargos were secured why have one The author did a good job in weaving all captain's logs previous publications and other documents into a readable account on the 'republic' the pirates created as well as the world around it He debunked lots of myths and legends He gave uite an extensive background of the politics in the Bahamas the corruptible governors the often supportive locales the rivalries with Spain and France the colonial treatment by the Crown and most interesting of all the pirates's indirect involvement in the Jacobite rebellion and the British wars of successions While the true motivations of such entanglement remain blurry it is just fascinating to read about these badass pirates actually thought about the political brouhaha far away in Europe Some of the ringleaders like Hornigold refused to take English vessels I guess they were still nationalistic at heart I was also fascinated with the democratic way of life in these pirate ships Sure the captains got the absolute authority during certain conditions like during wars but there was this spirit of euality especially if compared with the Royal Navy or even the merchant ships Meanwhile I wish the author spent time in describing the lives in Nassau under this pirate republic eg how the non pirate civilians fared among them what about the people living in the interior was there any codependency thing going on but maybe he just didn't have enough material for that All in all as my first non fiction book about pirate I find this book highly informative and surely whets my appetite to read some Will try to read Under the Black Flag The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates later

  3. says:

    Wow this was super informative book If you're not really interested in the subject matter you may find it a bit dry but I personally found the attention to detail wonderful This is a really gritty close up look into the life and times of some of the world's most famouse pirates Sam Bellamy Blackbeard Henry Avery and Charles Vane to name a few You certainly come away with sense these were some very very rough men who lived rather short lives to their own code The issues around slavery and child labour during this era although not new to me were very confronting and there were a few bits I simply wished I hadn't read However Woodard sets the scene in with incredible thought right down to the last smelly cruel scurvied detailIf you're interested in pirates like real history with all its glorious plunder and sordid realities then this is an absolute must read

  4. says:

    For a book about pirates it was surprisingly dull I realize that the very nature of pirates means there is not much archival material to work with other than official documents that are very likely biased but I came away from this book not much enlightened than when I started The title is never really addressed in my opinion Mr Woodard simply states the pirates wanted a base and made one on Nassau So how exactly was it a republic by and for pirates? We never find out At no point is there any mention of how such a society functioned Was it rule by the strongest most daring the one with the best charisma? Don't know it is never stated Instead we get a pretty complete rundown of ships taken And then the pirates themselves While finding out about the real Blackbeard is interesting he is not as bloodthirsty as the books I read as a kid made out there is still way too much about the ships he captured and not enough about him Charles Vane another pirate is mentioned in the introduction as a particularly violent one but when after much slogging we come to the brief section about him it is just captured ships It seems to me that Woodard had a great prospectus and sold the book based on it and then found there was not much to write about UNDER THE BLACK FLAG was much better It talks about the daily lives of the pirates and how the ship hierarchy was organized I wanted this book to tell me about how a society of pirates functioned not an insurance adjustors claim list

  5. says:

    Somewhere around this time of year mid January or just after one of the big cold snaps that pass for winter in central Texas I usually get an urge to pick up a book that will put a smell of sea salt in my personal air I freely admit to a love of coastal areas and good beach time and I will typically begin to start thinking ahead to planning some playtime in the sand during the many warmer months to comeAuthor Colin Woodard's “The Republic of Pirates” is a rollicking introduction to some of the most notorious of the Bahamian pirates and their consorts It's a colorful romp through pirate history and it's interesting than anything that Hollywood could have conjuredIt picks up a few years after Stephan Talty's book Empire of Blue Water leaves off and in fact I recommend reading that volume first as it really puts this book in its historical perspective Empire covered the Henry Morgan era of privateering in the mid to late 1600s while Republic of Pirates takes up the story during the Golden Age of Piracy some years later in the early 1700s During this time a group of pirate captains settled New Providence with the intention of setting up a pirate headuarters of sorts a loose society of rogues and vagabonds committed to living life on the account free to roam the sea lanes and cause as much mischief among the merchant fleets as possibleWoodard provides good biographies of several of the main figures of the Golden Age primarily Samuel Bellamy Edward Thatch otherwise known as Blackbeard and Charles Vane He also profiles Woodes Rogers himself a famous privateer and circumnavigator of the globe who eventually took position as Governor of the Bahamas and was charged with restoring order and safety to the shipping lanes by driving out the pirates who had settled the area Of course many other pirates are given time as well including some of the lesser known faces of Bahamian pirating such as Benjamin Hornigold and his rival Henry JenningsWoodard also covers a lot of the political climate that overshadowed the rise and subseuent fall of the pirate republic England and the colonies had their share of colorful political characters as well and some of the stories will amaze The tale of Blackbeard's North Carolina capture at the hands of a Virginian invasion is worth the price of the book all by itselfThis is a fast paced book that moves along with full throttle narrative force The author certainly did his research as the extensive notes and sources will attest to There are many fascinating details and adventures within these pages and the characters really come to life under Woodard's skilled prose The last third of the book especially is a whirlwind of thrills as the pirate empire begins to collapse and we learn of the final fates of many of the book's protagonistsI had a couple of small issues with the book It would have been nice to have had a glossary included for those of us who are not familiar with nautical terminology and slang Also the dust jacket makes claim that the pirate republic somehow fanned the flames of the American Revolution but that theme is never really explored much in the book Benjamin Franklin makes a small token appearance but it's only a passing reference at best Small uibbles though as the book is very well written and satisfying otherwise

  6. says:

    I ended up picking up this book because I realized I didn't really know much about the historical pirates Despite my rating I really do appreciate what this book attempts to do It really attempts to correct a lot of the mythology concerning the pirates in caribbean which is probably exacerbated due to the movies and Disney Ride that was eventually decommissioned I had fond memories of this ride from when I was a child and I uite enjoyed the first few moviesThat being said The Republic of Pirates is a very thorough account of the history of piracy in the early American colonies I really tore through the first 150 pages or so of this book The information was exhilarating and interesting Woodard appeared to be a great writer for conveying all this information and I really thought this whole book would be a uick read for me I was worried about reading other reviews who said this book was boring because for me it was anything but Unfortunately as I made it into the heart of piracy the book really slowed down for me The mythology concerning lots of dangerous naval engagements is very exaggerated Here the book turns into a sort of catalog of what certain pirates took from merchant vessels There's no real hunt for treasure or taking Spanish gold that was cursed by the natives I'm glad I walked away with the new knowledge that piracy wasn't all canon fire and sword fights but I feel like the book could have left out a lot of the immense details I'm sure a proper historian would want to know all about these different things but as a lay reader on this topic it made the book slow going on my endThe last couple chapters were fairly interesting though As the pirates began to be hunted and tried across the Americas the interest perked up again The catalog of takes became less and less and the story focused on those who tried to get away or those who didn't The political intrigue between all the nations involved in the Caribbean is very interesting to read about as well and creates a pretty fascinating backdrop on how uickly a lot of the nations were trying to just get some kind of territory in the New WorldThe name of the book sort of feels mistitled because this really doesn't discuss any kind of republic set up by pirates The closest you get is some discussion on places like Nassau but for the most part this really serves as a general history of piracy in the Caribbean not of any specific republic founded Perhaps it's a nod toward the Pirates like Vane who really wanted to wrest control of the region but never really succeeded in doing soIn the end if you're looking for a deep account of the actual history behind the legendary Pirates like Calico Jack Black Beard and so on this is a great book If you are really into that history I think you would even find the boring sections fascinating Even though I gave this a mediocre rating I am still rather glad I read the book it just took me forever to complete it

  7. says:

    Truth not speculationI found this book incredibly informative Much of what I thought I knew about pirates was entirely false Woodard builds this book around solid facts Facts backed up by relevant journals and ledgers In many cases he directly refutes previous stories with honest facts and datesThe downside to this is that the book CAN become very dry in parts The most detailed documents relating to pirates would be the claims lists for lost cargo This means that you do get plenty of detailed lists of what each pirate stole sank or otherwise ruinedThe only other downside I saw to this book was how it was organized Woodard makes an attempt at going in a chronological fashion Unfortunately many of the pirates in the book are active at the same time This means you can expect to follow one from 1715 1719 then backtrack to 1716 to follow another pirate to 1720 It tends to get a tad confusing with all the different events taking placeAt some points this book DOES touch on other historic events that took place but at some point Woodard has to draw the line and cannot cover all the events as much as they deserve This IS a book about pirates and not the history of English royalty

  8. says:

    So Ive been looking for a series about Pirate scallywags for an age since starting to watch “Black Sails” harking back to my schooling days Navy School where tales of Pirates were told from an early age My search for a modernupdated fiction series has turned out to be fruitless so I’ve gone with this book which is highly rated as i wanted to learn about the characters involved as an adult not the fantastical recollections of a small child who wanted to be a pirate Arrrrrrr and that portrayed recently in filmThe author gives a summation of his narrative in the opening chapter which i’ll copy here to give you a flavour of it’s source material – “What follows is based on material found in the archives of Britain the Americas No dialogue has been made up and descriptions of everything from cities events to clothing vessels and the weather are based on primary documents Previously lost aspects of the pirates history were recovered by integrating legal testimony trial documents the letters of English Spanish Governors colonial officials naval captains; accounts in period pamphlets newspapers books scrawling in custom house ledgers parish registers the log books of His Majesty’s warships”We start in 1696 with the story of Henry Avery the forerunner of the well known to many I would suppose Pirates his association with the port of Nassau His story is mired in as much legend as is fact although it would be fair to say that his dealings with the British governor of Nassau were likely accurate set the foundation of his story The following chapter tells of life at sea as a sailor picturing it as being no better than a criminal in prison with its draconian laws floggings meted out for nearly 300 “offences” around 50% of sailors dying at sea most not getting their full pay due to many reasons one being “deductions” if the cargo was damaged by storms or even mishandled by the dockworkerspackers Those being press ganged taken to the sea by force were sometimes not even paid The chapter paints a really bleak existence goes to show how Pirates arose during the period Charles Vane’s history as it was is revealed as is Edward Thatch’s Blackbeard again scant whilst Woode Rogers background is transcribed over uite a few pages I’m engrossed in what is turning out to be a very readable historyThe War of Spanish Succession 1702 1712 is highlighted where the plight of the West Indies colonies is retold at the hands of Spanish French Buccaneers The lie of the colonies in the area is given fighting ships of the time are discussed and illustrated the spread of the fleets over such a wide area the problems rot decay disease affecting the crews fleets unable to support each other in combat due to the distancetrade winds with the ships on station in the West Indies It’s from these desperate times that the colonists merchants the British navy fought back assembling their own privateers to raid the Spanish main their merchant shipping in doing so becoming incredibly rich as only 10% was paid to the crown Its from here that men like Edward Thatch Charles Vane emerge although their history story is still scant at this stage We do focus though on the story of Woode Rogers who began life as a Bristol merchant before investing monies into privateering his story being uite detailed as when as captain of the 36 gun “Duke” he kept a diary which was published on his return Some great stories are included including the rescue of one Alexander Selkirk who became better known as “Robinson Crusoe” on an island off the coast of Peru A very informative narrative concerning Woode Rogers is to be hadWith the War ending the Navy demobilises ¾ of it’s strength is cast out many finding themselves destitute in Ports throughout the Americas Merchant trade is cut in the area as the Spanish customs patrol seizes any trader that is found to hold Spanish coin which has become the currency of the region resulting in even sailors merchant looking for work With so few crews reuired wages also tumble the region is ripe for Pyrates A certain Captain Hornigold with Edward Thatch as a crewman comes to the fore with a crew of like minded souls sails to the port of Nassau an ideal location for a base as it’s a colony fallen into disrepair mostly abandoned it also has many islandschannels around to hide away in From here he begins a very successful career others flock to him the main turning point though being the wrecking of the Spanish treasure fleet by a great hurricane in 1715 which sees hundreds of small ships descend upon the Florida keys to hunt for treasure with a great many ending up in Nassau which becomes the de facto base of operations for the building Privateers fleets who at first only attackraid SpanishFrench ships as they don’t recognise the recent Treaty of Utrecht “Pirates gathering” is a great chapter to read as the privateers start to turn towards being fully fledged Pyrates in that anyone is fair game British merchants too It’s in this period that many paths cross they begin to band together grow in strength the chapter is littered with such tales makes for a grand read The history also overlays with Jacobite rebellion it's likely fact that many Pirates were sympathisers to James of Scotland had other motives for raiding British ships banding together a fleet in the West IndiesWith the scene now set the majority of the rest of the book focuses on talesescapadeshistory of the individual Pirate Captains the folklore surrounding them comes under scrutiny once such thing being that as I read the text I noted that one myth was now expunged at least and that was of making captives walk the plank or killing them outright if they refused to join the pirate ranks no record of it at all within the testimony with many being released once they’re cargo was secured most likely a myth conjured up to put fear into opposing captains to make them surrender without a fight which is evidenced uite a lot They seem to spend time getting drunk which is evidenced freuently oft to their detriment ie One such tale has a crew so inebriated they wreck their sloop loose all their booty Others are captured because they’re too pissed to fight or evade their pursuersIn “Begging pardon” Charles Vane Edward Teach Blackbeard are the main Pirates not Captain Flint nor Long John Silver for those who follow “Black Sails” who resisted past the point when the crown offered pardons also Calico Jack latterly Their histories feature throughout the later book much is known told about them from the point of when they became Captains in their own right so as they continued to be Pirates to the end“Brinkmanship” sees Woodes Rogers the Royal Navy arrive at Nassau to install him as Governor of the Bahamas in which he at first manages to run off Charles Vane before the conflict turns itself on its head as the newcomers fall to tropical disease the Royal Navy depart with their 3 warships the “pardoned” Pirates prove unwilling lazy in restoring the colony Woodes Rogers seems a particularly unfortunate character who gives his all to destroy the pirates but ends up in a debtors prison despite being the man and not the Crown nor Royal Navy who defeated said Pirates“Hunted” “Piracy’s end” neatly wrap up the demise of the notorieties piracy itself throughout the Americas even those who escaped the region end up of the coast of Africa don’t escape justice entirely although one or two die of old age on tropical Islands A whose who of the Pirate world its interesting to know their actual demises not how a certain TV show portrayed itOverall Very readable giving a good account of life endured by folk at the time as well as the lay of the land that created the Pirates from the origins of the privateers through to the stories of the individuals behind the legends many of who I hadn’t actually heard of I would add perhaps the myths known are bigger than the actual men certainly that’s what struck me come voyage endThe final fifth of the book contains notes references an Index45 Stars rounded to a 4 highly recommend for all followers of Buccaneers Scallywags Rovers wreckers ne’er do wells et al commonly termed Pirates Arrrrrrrrr

  9. says:

    The Republic of Pirates was an easy 4 Star history of the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean along the Spanish Main the east coast of America and other locales Any fan of Starz’s Black Sails will find their favorite characters here although the real stories are not always aligned with the miniseries Never mind the accounts read easily and keep your interest The author gives a good overview of the background of the times and why this area and the life of a pirate was attractive War played a large role as licensed privateers found themselves unemployed once the war was over An easy slide over to the life of a pirate It seemed the pirates conducted themselves honorably than the British Empire at times The pirates were heroes to many people sometimes acting like “Robin Hood” and his merry men But some pirates descended into pointless or vengeful cruelty and bloodshed The book relates just how effective many of the pirates were in shutting down trade I would like to have seen information on the French and Spanish aspects along with the impact to the British interests Some excerptsLong before Australia the English found places to send their less desired Life was brutal in the islands Eventually a recruiting ground for “pyrates”view spoiler For decades English authorities had used the island’s Jamaica plantations as a dumping ground for people they found undesirable Puritans and other religious deviants Scottish and Irish nationalists followers of failed rebellions against the crown landless peasants beggars and large numbers of common criminals all found themselves in bondage to the sugar and cotton planters Hordes of these indentured servants died overwhelmed by tropical diseases as they worked the planters’ fields under the unrelenting sun; others simply ran off and joined the privateers who used Port Royal as a base to attack Spanish shipping during the wars of the 1660s and 1670s hide spoiler

  10. says:

    After watching the last season of Black Sails I wanted to learn about the true historical pirates rather than Hollywood types This book gives a very good overview of the golden age of Piracy Black Beard Charles Vane Anne Bonney Mary Reed and Calico Jack Rackham as well as many other well known pirates make appearances in this book It tells of the rise and fall of this golden age of Piracy and the stories of the pirates and those that hunted them I found the book very informative and very interesting It goes over the whole era pretty well in a very good presentation of stories and facts