The Pirate Hunter: Book Review

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Being something of a grayhat SEO it’s probably no surprise that I’d find a book about pirates enjoyable, in fact Mutiny on the Bounty and Treasure Island are two of my favorite books. With this being the season of excessive pirate marketing i received a copy of Richard Zacks, The Pirate Hunter for Father’s Day.

Capitan Kidd is probably the most famous American Pirate and one of the few pirates most people know by name. Kidd lived in New York (56 Wall Street to be exact) so that makes him something of a local boy gone good (or bad), or our home town pirate. I didn’t know a tremendous amount about Kidd before the book other than he had reportedly burried treasure on Long Island where I live (more about that later).

This book is written in a non-linear fashion, it jumps around going forward and backward in time (like the movie 6 degrees of seperation), while it makes it a bit disorienting from time to time it does make the book as whole more interesting. The author does an excellent job of giving you detailed and through history and information about characters involved in the story as they become involved. He also inculeds copies of and text from letters and other important doccuments of the period. The first third of the book or so details the set up of how William Kidd and the other characters got to where they were leading up to the voyage of the Adventure Galley. The middle of the book details Kidd’s journey, while it does bog down a bit in the middle you can power through. The final third of the book deal with Kidd’s surrender, evidence gathering and trial for piracy. While modern day laws have changed there’s enough courtroom drama, back room deals, and legal posturing for it to feel like a modern day celebrity trial. All in all I found the book enjoyable and would reccomend it to anyone who enjoys pirates or sea adventures.

What I Learned
While summer reading is supposed be fun I believe life is filled with opportunity to grow and learn new things. The first thing I learned was the Jolly Roger flag looked manacing but a red pirate flag was actually more dangerous. It signaled captives would be shown no mercy and murdered unless they surrendered. The next thing I learned was Captain Kidd actually did bury some treasure on Gardiner’s Island a small island between the north and south fork on the end of Long Island. I’ve passed by this island quite a few times taking the ferry from Orient Point to Connecticut and never knew that. The treasure was removed by John Gardiner at the request of Governor Bellomont of Massachusetts to be used as evidence. Thanks to The Pirate Hunter being in the Google Books program I was able to correct the Wikipedia entry about Gardiners Island and Capitan Kidd and cite the book as a reference. I also learned there is piece of gold fabric Kidd gave to Elizabeth Gardiner (John’s Wife) on exhibit in the East Hampton Library. Educational and entertaining something every book should be.

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