Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Robert C. Ritchie’s account of the brief and violent career of Captain William Kidd, the most famous (or notorious) pirate of the seventeenth century, separates him largely from the aura of romantic legend which attached to Kidd’s name after his death. There are gaps in the story because Kidd and most of the men who sailed and fought for or against him—and survived—were men of action and limited education who had either no interest in or ability at keeping orderly records of their actions and their lives. After Kidd’s capture he wrote about himself and what he had done, but he was trying then to save his neck and thus his writing is suspect. In his desperation, he found it easy to lie or to claim that others had lied about or double-crossed him.
Piracy had been practiced for centuries before Kidd took it up. Greek and Roman historians reported it. Viking piracy flourished in the North Atlantic during the Middle Ages. At the end of the seventeenth century, William Kidd was only one among many whose depredations endangered or snuffed out the lives of sailors, ship passengers, and slaves; who stole cargoes; and who burned or sank ships belonging to merchant companies in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
Piracy falls into three categories. These include officially sanctioned piracy, commercial piracy, and marauding.
Sir Francis Drake’s famed round-the-world voyage from 1577 to 1579, which included attacks on Spanish...
(The entire section is 2381 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Best Sellers. XLVI, December, 1986, p. 353.
Booklist. LXXXIII, October 15, 1986, p. 311.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, September 1, 1986, p. 1357.
Library Journal. CXI, November 1, 1986, p. 94.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, October 19, 1986, p. 31.
Smithsonian. XVII, October, 1986, p. 175.
(The entire section is 32 words.)