Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Republic of Pirates

The original pirates of the Caribbean were the early new world democratic revolutionaries. They threw off the chains of repression and gave each man an equal say and his destiny. They achieved this destiny primarily by looting and plundering, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

The big pirates often started out with fairly normal "careers" before drifting into piracy. Some were originally privateers and then decided they could do even better without the official sanction. Others still held to some nominal allegiance to their comrades and the rule of law. Others were just in it for fun. What they all generally discovered was that you can appeal to a man's greed. By promising each man a significant share of the wealth and saw in the ship's activities, they were able to recruit and maintain a dedicated workforce. (They also resorted to conscription when they needed it.)

The Bahamas were once the headquarters of pirate activity. The rule of law was largely ignored and the pirates had their saw. The man that came in and finally cleaned up the Bahamas ended up living in poverty due to his efforts to support the "honest" population.

Alas, while the pirates achieved notoriety, they rarely got to enjoy their riches, often dying at the sword or gallows. At least they went out in flames.

Republic of Pirates attempts to bring this early pirate era alive by focusing on a few main characters (such as Blackbeard.) The story is a little more than a biography, but a little less than a history. I would have liked to have a little more of both.

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