This book has been on my list to read for quite some time. It was published in 2002 so it came out before pirates became popular again. After reading the Prologue, (YES! YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE PROLOGUE!) I was hooked. Zacks writes in such a way that you know that he has done his homework, but does not bore you in the presentation of the work that he has done. I think that what grabs me the most about this book is how unappealing the life of a pirate is to me, but how appealing it was to men in the 17th century. The idea of taking your life in your own hands just to go to the bathroom does not sound fun to me. Nor am I in any hurry to have my teeth fall out and my bones go soft because of scurvy. How about taking a week of backbreaking labor just to fill up barrels of drinking water that will go sour in just a week or two? Sounds like fun! Sign me up!
One thing that has been bothering me about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, while I thoroughly enjoyed all three, is that pirates became freedom fighters. They became the underdogs against the big "corporate machine" of the East India Trading Company. I think that if we think about real pirates being like Jack Sparrow, we miss the boat, I mean ship. Pirates were murderous thieves. As Zacks points out in his book, they wanted money and sex, and would do whatever it took to get it. But that does not make for a good movie. It makes me wonder what our next "hero" will be. Pirates were not heroes, and it's tragic that many folks will begin to view them as such because of fun movies and great performances.
But aside from that, Zacks' book tells a great tale about Captain Kidd, and dead men apparently do tell tales. Grab this book and read it. I can't wait to read his next one about Jefferson and the pirates at Tripoli.