Stories of individual pirates in the Caribbean, from Blackbeard to Calico Jack, have been the stuff of legend since the eighteenth century, but in Spanish Gold pirate expert David Cordingly at last gives us the big picture in all its bold and ruthless truth. Cordingly shows how the attacks of the buccaneers on the treasure ports of the Spanish Main, and the sacking of Panama by Sir Henry Morgan in 1671, were the prologue to an explosion of piracy which led to the establishment of a pirate colony at Nassau in the Bahamas. By 1717, so many ships had been raided and trade so badly disrupted that the merchants of London had to act. The man they selected `to drive the pirates from their lodgement' was Captain Woodes Rogers, himself a former privateer who had sailed round the world with William Dampier the buccaneer explorer as his pilot. Woodes Rogers had captured the fabled Manila treasure galleon, and rescued Alexander Selkirk from a remote Pacific island - indeed, it was his account of Selkirk's ordeal that inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Woodes Rogers' resolute actions as Governor of the Bahamas restored order to the colony and proved a defining step in the campaign against the pirates, inspiring the fight-back against men like Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Bartholomew Roberts, all of whom died in dramatic circumstances. Played out against the background of fierce colonial rivalry between Britain, France and Spain, linked with the slave trade, the sugar plantations of the West Indies, and the fabulously rich trade in gold and silver from the New World, the true story of the rise and fall of the pirates of the Caribbean makes for a tale even more interesting and surprising than the legends themselves.
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David Cordingly was Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum for twelve years, where he organised such exhibitions as `Captain James Cook, Navigator', `The Mutiny on the Bounty' and `Pirates: Fact and Fiction'. His other books include Life among the Pirates, Heroines and Harlots, Billy Ruffian and Cochrane, the Dauntless.Review:
`Both a brilliant idea and an engrossing book that tells the story of a ship of the line in Nelson's day ... Billy Ruffian is for anyone interested in the Napoleonic wars or entranced by the adventures of Hornblower or Jack Aubrey' * Bernard Cornwall, Books of the Year, Mail on Sunday * `David Cordingly is a brilliant historian: authoritative but easy to read, with an eye for the story yet with a touch light enough to let the facts speak for themselves' * Daily Telegraph * `No-one could be better qualified to write this excellent biography of the ship than David Cordingly' * Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph * `Intriguing and satisfying ... Cochrane packed enough drama and history to shame both Horatio Nelson and Sir Francis Drake' * Washington Post *
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