Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
I have dipped my hands in muddy water, and
if a pirate
I must be,
‘tis better being a commander than a common man.
-- Bartholomew Roberts, according to Captain Johnson
On 6 June 1719, John Roberts was an honest, hardworking sailor, earning his living as third mate aboard a three-masted ship named the Princess. Then pirates, under the leadership of Howell Davis, captured and plundered the slaver. Forced to join them, Roberts eventually decided that if he was going to be a pirate, he would be the best pirate ever. He changed his name to Bartholomew, was elected captain, acquired a fleet of ships, and became one of the most successful pirates of his day. Yet, he didn’t fit the stereotypical pirate. He preferred tea to rum. He detested gratuitous violence. He favored solitude.
There are no footnotes in the book, but all sources of direct quotes are readily identified within the narrative. I came across only one minor error while reading – Lieutenant Maynard attacked Blackbeard, not Captain Maynard. Otherwise, the material is well researched, fully explained, and easy to read. There are two appendices. The first lists Roberts’ ships, crew, and prizes; the second is Thomas Anstis’ articles of agreement. The bibliography includes both primary and secondary sources, and there is an index.
From Roberts’ early days as a young lad in Wales to his rise to power, to his death and the subsequent capture of his men, Richard Sanders writes an absorbing account of this reluctant pirate who became one of the most-feared pirates of the 18th century. As you read this account, don’t be surprised if you feel Bartholomew Roberts standing right behind you, breathing over your shoulder, for Sanders brings this villain to life as he recounts Roberts’ adventures. If a Pirate I Must Be… is a gripping portrayal of not only pirate life, but also what it was like to earn a living as a sailor and why some went on the account, even though they knew the hangman’s noose awaited them if caught.
BookShow Interview with Richard Sanders
Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar
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