Piracy was big business at the tail-end of the 17th century. Since the Caribbean was being strictly policed, the pirates looked for new seas to conquer. They made their base the island of St. Mary off Madagascar, where an enormous pirate series of communities bloomed. Then Captain John Avery looted an oriental ship bound for Mecca with diamonds and coin, and made what might be the greatest haul in history. Since the vanquished ship had been en route to the Red Sea, the future of piracy was soon settled for the world's pirates: comb the Red Sea. (Despite his luck here, Avery was fleeced by shore merchants and died a pauper.) A great irony developed when nations hired private ships to hunt down pirates. This legal device, as the author points out, was much like allowing a chief of police to buy a police car, chase thieves --and then keep whatever stolen goods he recovered. The last chapters expand upon the career of Captain Kidd and his lengthy trial; the sketch here reveals that Kidd's was a life worthy of Fielding's pen. Cochran's account is colorful and even draws some pity for the rascal.