Saturday, June 30, 2007

Book Review: "Pirates: An Illustrated History"

Blackbeard biographer Angus Konstam expands his scope to pirates of all kinds in Pirates: Predators of the Seas: An Illustrated History (Skyhorse Publishing, 2007). The dust jacket calls this volume the "essential companion for every armchair swashbuckler," which seems fairly apt. It's a basic overview of pirates and pirate culture through history - from classical times through the present day.

This book is indeed heavily illustrated with contemporary engravings, photos of artifacts, maps and (primarily) later adaptations of pirate life (those by Howard Pyle, for example). Unfortunately, many of the early illustrations used seem to have been crudely adapted, which takes much from their impact.

Fairly formulaic and not particularly compellingly written, this is a decent browsing book, but not much more. The absence of a bibliography or list for further reading is particularly unfortunate.