A vivid portrait of pirate life, and even better as an analysis of why the ruthless outlaws were so peculiarly suited for...




Colorful history of the five-decade piratical assault on Spain’s tottering New World empire.

Port Royal, Jamaica, England’s tenuous toehold in the West Indies, was home to runaway slaves, indentured servants, adventurers, political refugees and other refuse of the New World who constituted the pirate armies of Edward Mansfield and Henry Morgan. Under a thin veil of “commissions” issued by Governor Thomas Modyford, these privateers plundered the wealthy, vastly dispersed Spanish empire, whose outdated weapons, hardened bureaucracy and provincial rivalries exposed it to marauders who had nothing to lose and staggering riches to gain. With absolutely no interest in occupation, no guaranteed food supplies outside their home ports, no access to repair facilities for their ships and no stockades to protect them, the pirate armies prized daring and risk-taking, wanted only treasure and depended upon their reputation for terror to get it. With the possible exception of Francis L’Ollonais, no pirate leader exceeded Henry Morgan’s talent for cruelty, and no one matched his success. Talty (Mulatto America, 2003) chronicles Morgan’s flamboyant 33-year career, including the sacks of Granada, Portobelo, Maracaibo and Panama, as well as his quest for respectability as a landowner and protector of Jamaica. (The longer timeframe gives this book a potential edge over Peter Earle’s excellent but more narrowly focused The Sack of Panamá, Feb. 2007) Arrested in 1672, Morgan was deported to England to answer for his depredations. On second thought, Charles II knighted him, returned him to the island as deputy governor and charged him with ridding the area of . . . pirates. This he largely achieved before dying ingloriously of dropsy in 1688, four years in advance of Port Royal’s destruction by a devastating earthquake and tsunami viewed by many as God’s judgment on the wickedest city on earth.

A vivid portrait of pirate life, and even better as an analysis of why the ruthless outlaws were so peculiarly suited for success against hapless Spain.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 0-307-23660-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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

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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

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