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David Cordingly was for twelve years on the staff of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, where he was curator of paintings and then head of exhibitions. He is a graduate of Oxford. He lives with his wife and family in Sussex, England.

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"Under the Black Flag" by David Cordingly is a great overview of the most legendary exploits and infamous lives in the great annals of pirate history. He opens with the most well-known of the fictional pirates, namely Captain Hook and Long John Silver, before diving into privateers and buccaneers of early piracy. Here Cordingly focuses on Sir Francis Drake and Sir Henry Morgan. Morgan was certainly the most successful, becoming commander of the Jamaican fleet against the Spanish. From these two we learn of the unimaginable wealth that was being transferred from the New World back to Spain; wealth built on slavery and colonization, and every pirate wanted a piece of it. Cordingly goes on to cover the lives of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Bellamy, Roberts, Avery, Vane and others.

I'm conflicted though. It offered lots of new information, but the premise of "the romance" of piracy wasn't there. Where did the idea of the jolly pirate come from? Sir Henry Morgan insisted that he was the son of a gentleman, creating his own romantic past, but Cordingly doesn't expand on this point. Anne Bonny and Mary Read definitely gained their romantic status but one that is distinctively theirs, not a reflection on pirates as a whole. Though props to Cordingly for including French pirates in this one! He acknowledges that it was actually French corsairs like Jean Fleury, Francois le Clerc, and Francis L'Ollonais, "who led the attacks on Spanish treasure ships." The French made an appearance several times which was refreshing. He also mentions other seafaring women, mainly Mary Ann Talbot, Hannah Snell, and Cheng Shih! However, I struggled to find the connection between them all besides a history of general piracy. I'm afraid the reader must draw their own conclusions. Still, I took a lot of notes! He's definitely the expert!
… (mere)
asukamaxwell | 40 andre anmeldelser | Apr 21, 2024 |
The author goes into great detail on the development of English marine painting and the special knowledge that marine painters need to make their paintings accurate.
Mapguy314 | Mar 5, 2023 |
A good overview of the history of pirates including those operating in the Indian Ocean. It also includes interesting facts about the authors who wrote some of the best known pirate stories ([author:Robert Louis Stevenson], [author:J.M. Barrie]) and how their portrayal of pirates helped secure the image of the swashbuckler that we identify with today.
kelleysgirl76 | 40 andre anmeldelser | Sep 16, 2022 |
I picked this up to read by the pool when we traveled to Panama with friends. Contains a *ton* of history and information. Unfortunately, I felt swamped by information. I couldn't remember who was who or when was when. I can't help but wonder if it could've been a better book if the focus was narrowed to the most famous pirates.
MarkLacy | 40 andre anmeldelser | May 29, 2022 |



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