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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Nonfiction

Cover Art: Last Buccaneers in the South Sea
The Last Buccaneers in the South Sea 1686-1695
Peter T. Bradley
Lulu.com, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4477-3018-7, $26.70 / eBook $15.62
In the waning years of the 17th century, colonial perspectives forced buccaneers to seek new venues to ply their trade. The Caribbean was no longer the safe haven it had been, and governments and merchants saw these brigands as detrimental to trade, rather than as essential protection against enemies. One group of buccaneers sailed from the North American coast in 1686 to Africa, then back across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn into what was then known as the South Sea. Their ships and their exploits focused primarily on the Viceroyalty of Peru, but ranged as far north as Mexico and Baja California. The majority of these pirates were French, and they remained active until 1695.

The Last Buccaneers in the South Sea is divided into three parts. The first is an English translation of a French diary with additional information from Spanish documents from the period. Aside from their raids on ships and towns, the journal also recounts the problems the buccaneers encountered, particularly regarding insufficient food supplies, and how they converted a prize to a pirate ship. This section of the book closes with the author’s conclusions about these buccaneers, their practices, and their behaviors, especially how the last was viewed from the perspective of the pirates and the expectations of the Spaniards. Footnotes provide additional insights and references.

Part two is the original journal in French. The entries provide a day-by-day recap of activities, rather than the rolling narrative seen in the English translation.  The final segment contains four documents in Spanish that pertain to the buccaneers. No full translation of these is provided, although the author cites or refers to portions of them in the first part of the book. The only index is to place names.

What makes this volume different is that it focuses on the final wave of buccaneers who plundered the western coasts of South America. Earlier comrades often crossed the Isthmus of Panama to reach this region, but not these last buccaneers. Their “safe” havens during these voyages were the Galapagos Islands and sometimes California. The volume also provides an interesting look into hostages, which makes a good comparison for students wishing to compare practices of the buccaneers with today’s pirates.

Read an excerpt
(Click on preview beneath cover art)



Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar




Cover Art: Pirates on the Coasts of Peru
Pirates on the Coasts of Peru 1598-1701
Peter T. Bradley
Lulu.com, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4092-0251-6, $38.01 / eBook $14.23

Most students of pirate history know of the English buccaneers who ventured to the west coast of the New World to hunt for Spanish treasure in the 1670s.  Few, however, are aware that the first piratical incursions into this region began with the Dutch in 1598 and ended with French traders in 1701. Emeritus Professor of Latin American History at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Bradley is eminently qualified to write on this subject. He explains in his introduction that there were several primary purposes for these incursions into Spain’s New World empire: “outright piracy (for personal gain), privateering (licensed by a monarchy), contraband trade or merely reconnaissance and exploration.” (1) Not all of the encounters discussed here fall within the realm of piracy as it is generally defined, but the victims of these assaults considered them pirates.

The eight exploits discussed here are:

The First of the Dutch: Mahu and van Noort (1598-1601)
The Defeat of the Peruvian Squadron by Joris van Spilbergen (1614-17)
Jacques l’Hermite, the ‘Nassausche Vloot’ and the Blockade of Callao (1623-26)
The Expedition of Hendrik Brouwer: A Project for Colonial Settlement (1642-43)
John Narborough and the Mysterious Don Carlos (1669-71)
Sharp and Company: The First of the Buccaneers (1679-82)
English and French Buccaneers: The Second Wave (1683-89)
The End of an Era and the Opening of a New Phase: The Last of the Buccaneers, John Strong Privateer, and the Arrival of French Traders (1689-1701)

This volume includes four maps, a glossary and list of abbreviations, and a detailed index. Footnotes appear on the pages where the citation occurs and provide either additional information on the source material or insight into the subject. Within the chapters, readers will find tables that delineate the ships involved in the various exploits, comparing their tonnage, armament, crew, and captains.

The majority of histories on Caribbean pirates focus on the West Indies, the east coast of Latin America, and Panama. This is why this study on their intrusion into the viceroyalty of Peru – Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama today – is significant. The book also examines what lured these men to the region and the dangers they faced, for the New World offered challenges many hadn’t encountered before. Equally important is the inclusion of countermeasures that the Spanish undertook or proposed to prevent these intruders from succeeding in their endeavors. The scope and breadth of this study make this volume a worthy addition to the history of this region, as well as piracy and exploration since some of these men eventually published their journals for the general populace.

Read an excerpt
(click on preview beneath cover art)


Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar



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