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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 Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults

Cover Art: Misty Gordon and the Mysery of the Ghost
The Book of Pirates: A Guide to Plundering, Pillaging and Other Pursuits
By Jamaica Rose and Captain Michael MacLeod
Gibbs Smith, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4236-0670-3, $12.99

Another book on pirates? Yes, that was my initial reaction to The Book of Pirates, but knowing Jamaica Rose and Captain Michael, I plunged into this book and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not just another overview of pirates and piracy – far from it. As the introduction states:
This book contains everything a young buccaneer needs to advance from landlubber to an accomplished Sea Rover. We promise you the start of the adventure of a lifetime.
We’ll give you advice on how to:  
  • Make the proper costume choices to be “piratically” fashionable.
  • Find just the right pirate name.
  • Make and wield your cutlass.
  • Get that proper fearsome look of a buccaneer, complete with a wicked scar or two. (8)
The basic history of pirates, especially in the Caribbean, and how they worked is presented, but The Book of Pirates is an activity book that provides pirate apprentices with the knowledge and tools they need to assume pirate personae. The goal is for the reader to have fun while learning, as demonstrated in the first chapter, “Pirate Facts and Fiction,” with Cap’n Michael’s true or false quiz. This chapter also includes a time line of piracy from 1176 BCE through 2009 along the bottom of the pages. Later, “Coins of the Spanish Empire” are highlighted and explained. An index rounds out the book.
Scattered throughout the narrative are black-and-white illustrations and boxes of piratical words that are defined. While some famous pirates are illuminated, others are ones often forgotten or glossed over in other tomes. From time to time boxes highlight “Pirates in the Movies” and websites to visit that have ties to piracy. Also included is a rather extensive list of terms for pirates with their definitions. Full-page diagrams show how pirates (Edward England, Stede Bonnet, and Blackbeard) dressed. Diagrams depicting various parts accompany the weapons showcased in “Sharp Pointy Things and Things that Go Ka-Boom!” This chapter also contains steps for basic sword drill and safety rules for stage combat. Another noteworthy addition is the “Pirate Insult Kit” that is similar to George Choundas’ The Pirate Primer, but on a much smaller scale. If I have one complaint about this book, it’s the type size. Hopefully, younger pirate eyes won’t be quite so challenged.
Perhaps the gems within this volume, however, are the activities, most of which aren’t found in other activity books of this type. Known as “Pastimes for Scurvy Dogs,” these include:
Writing Yer Own Rules
Using a Message in a Bottle
Bobbing for Bottles
There’s a Pirate in Your Closet
Behind Every Scar is a Really Good Story: Special Effects Makeup
Make Yer Own Foam Cutlass
Finding Yer Inner Pirate
Making Antique Paper for Maps, Messages, and More!
Invite Yer Crew
Open the Treasure Chest
Treasure Hunt
Makin’ Yer Own Treasure Chest
Leave the Treasure to Us
A Black Flag Would Be as Good as Fifty Men
Flying Yer Colors
Drat! They’re Rats!
Belly Timber: How Do You Feed a Crew of Hungry Pirates?
Rolling the Bones
Makin’ Yer Own Sweat-cloth Game
The authors also include several food recipes to try: Make Yer Own Cannonballs, Traditional Hardtack, Jerk Pork, Watermelon Pirate Ship, Limeade Grog, and Blackbeard’s “Gunpowder and Rum” Punch. To really liven up the party, you’ll find some “Pirated Riddles” to try out on your friends.
Jamaica Rose – alias Christine Markel Lampe and her husband, Cap’n Michael, are eminently qualified to write about pirates, for they’ve been publishing No Quarter Given for fifteen years and are founding members of the Port Royal Privateers. Whether a pirate apprentice or an older landlubber seeking to join the brethrens’ ranks, readers will find The Book of Pirates a worthy sea chart for navigating their way into shark-infested pirate waters.

About the Authors
Jamaica Rose, also known as Christine Markel Lampe, was "kidnapped" by pirates in 1988 when a friend invited her on a pirate cruise. She met her husband, Captain Michael MacLeod aka Michael Lampe, on that first voyage, and they've been pursuing the piratical life ever since. For many years they published No Quarter Given, a magazine on all things pirate, and are founding members of the Port Royal Privateers. They live in Southern California.

Review Copyright ©2010 Cindy Vallar

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