A well-told adventure.




Meticulous chronicle of perhaps the most audacious pirate raid in history.

On the Caribbean side of the Audiencia of Panamá, the city of Portobello welcomed Spanish ships carrying manufactured goods critical to the West Indian empire’s maintenance. On the Pacific side of the narrow isthmus lay the city of Panamá, where ships laden with silver from Peru off-loaded their treasure onto mule trains headed to Portobello for galleons returning to Spain. By 1666, it had been almost 70 years since English privateer Francis Drake had seriously threatened the area’s security. In the meantime, her treasury drained by incessant war and the cost of servicing her far-flung colonies, Spain’s power waned, her vigilance relaxed and her defense of the Caribbean grew thin and rusty. From his base on Jamaica, Privateer Henry Morgan noticed. Taking full advantage of Spanish decay and the vast distances and slow communications that allowed him to ignore whatever peace agreement Europe had concluded, Morgan (making sly use of commissions issued by Jamaica’s governor, Thomas Modyford, that lent legal cover to his operations) brought Spain to her knees. Earle (Economic History/Univ. of London; The Pirate Wars, 2005, etc.) focuses on the five-year period featuring a series of pirate attacks and Spanish counterthrusts that culminated in the audacious 1671 raid on Portobello and the looting of Panamá, which cemented Morgan’s reputation as history’s greatest pirate commander, whose effectiveness was exceeded only by his brutality. Relying mostly on letters, reports and legal documents, the author has pieced together a fascinating tale that’s especially strong in recounting the Spaniards’ mostly hapless response to Morgan’s depredations and in delineating how piracy thrived within the interstices of law and diplomacy. Earle also explains why, once launched on their dubious missions, irregular forces of men who thought nothing of rape, torture or any despicable tactic to gain their objective, nonetheless strictly adhered to self-made codes of conduct and elaborate conventions that governed the division of spoils.

A well-told adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-36142-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet