PIRACY AND PLUNDER by Milton Meltzer


A Murderous Business
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 11 - 14
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Pirates have a romantic image that Meltzer (Case Closed, p. 1130, etc.) effectively undermines in this history of piracy in which he emphasizes the violence and callousness of pirates throughout the ages. Following the practice chronologically, from Homer to modern piracy of items like videos and music CDs, he recounts stories about famous pirates like Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard, and devotes several pages to females. A section falling halfway through discusses who became pirates and why, everyday life on shipboard, and punishment of pirates by marooning them. One fascinating topic is the pirates’ codes of conduct, with one from the early-18th century reprinted in full. The numbered list explains that each man has an equal vote and a fair share of goods, lays out the punishment for desertion and the exact means for settling disputes, and more. Even with such direct quotations, though, Meltzer gives no citations. A selected bibliography provides the only documentation, a serious drawback in a work of nonfiction. The 96 pages are arranged in short sections of a page or two, each under a heading, rather than in longer chapters that might help readers organize the material in their minds. The very last section returns to the issue of romanticizing pirates with a brief look at books and movies that do so and then coming to a surprisingly abrupt close. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-45857-3
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001


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