Pirate Books - The Guide for Popular Pirate Books Reading

Essential Pirate Reading List

During the Golden Age of Piracy between 16th and early 18th century, people started learning of pirate exploits not only via news reports that were passed through official news channels but also via literary works written by naval captains who had close encounters with pirates and writers who claimed to have a wealth of experience on this matter. Books that are presented here are focused on real historical records, and many of them served as a foundation on which many other future literary and multimedia works were built, famous pirate myths were born and more.

The most famous pirate book of all time is without any doubt “A General History of the Pyrates”, written by acclaimed English novelist Daniel Defoe (writer of Robinson Crusoe) just years after the deaths of many feared pirates such as Blackbeard and Calico Jack. From that moment, many other authors tried to record the events and lives of pirates who roamed Atlantic, Indian and China Seas during the Golden Age of Piracy.

A General History of the Pyrates

The book that created fascination with pirate lifestyle. It provides incredibly in-depth details about the life of pirates on Caribbean seas during late 17th and early 18th century, and it achieves this feat because it was written in the age pirates operated on the Caribbean!

This book has withstood the test of time by becoming one of the cornerstones that defined our modern look at pirates, serving not only as a foundation on which many other authors built their careers, but also providing us with incredibly detailed look at the simple facts of the life during the years when pirates ruled the seas. The modern tropes of pirates without legs, eyes, buried treasures, and elaborate “Jolly Rodger” flags.

What has not withstood the test of time is the literary style and the use of language that is present in this book. Written before the creation of United States of America, this book is today very hard to read since it utilizes an authentic old version of English, including words that are not in use today and complicated sentence structures.

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates

Modern literature and visual media have transformed the history of pirates into romanticized adventures, but those who want to find out what was life on pirate seas really like should look no further from this book. Written by the David Cordingly, former head of exhibitions at England's National Maritime Museum, this book represents a definitive source for learning about true historical events regarding pirates, men who hunted them and gold they managed to plunder.

In addition to the breakdown of the many historical records that were sourced from original documents, “Under the Black Flag” also closely examines many of the modern pirate myths and explains which were true (for example buried treasures) and which are pure fiction (like “walking the plank”).

While the “A General History of the Pyrates” is still regarded as a groundbreaking volume that introduced modern history with in-depth descriptions of pirate life, Cordingly’s book is much better suited for modern readers because of its streamlined form, pictures, maps and data collected from numerous historical documents.

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down

In 2007, author Colin Woodard has compiled a novel that covers one of the most fascinating periods in the entire Golden Age of Piracy – a time when many famous pirate captains such as "Black Sam" Bellamy and Edward "Blackbeard" Teach joined forces and formed the infamous “Flying Gang” pirate group that terrorized the Caribbean and Atlantic for several years. In “The Republic of Pirates” you will find about not only about the origins and the exploits of this infamous group, but also their focus on establishing their pirate haven, a form of a so-called pirate republic where outcasts of all kinds could find freedom from the oppression of worldwide governments.

Data needed to create this incredibly in-depth look at the past was sourced from hundreds of historical documents, testimonies, court files, and scribes that writer has managed to collect over the years. The result is a historical book that not only provides us a window to the brief period when notorious pirates tried to become an independent force but also one of the rare books where pirates were humanized and showcased as extraordinary people who lived incredible lives.

The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd

Today, details of lives of many pirate captains are unknown to the general population, and many know them only by their names. However, real history can hide the incredible amount of secrets. The book “The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd” shines the light on the life of Captain Kidd, who is best known today as one of the pirates during the height of the Golden Age of Piracy, but in reality, he was everything but that. He was a highly capable and talented naval captain from New York who was tasked to operate on high seas as a pirate hunter!

Sourced from multitude of historical documents, testimonial, court files and other sources, writer Richard Zacks manages to produce a very interesting novel that effortlessly transport the reader into the late 17th century, with in-depth description of sea lifestyle, East India Company captains, pirates and most importantly, the state of the world that enabled pirates to become such a dominant force on the dangerous seas.

If you are interested to learn more about pirate hunters who were on the trail on some of the most dangerous pirate captains of all time, this book should be your first choice.

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found

The modern society and pop culture have almost managed to completely transform pirates into creatures of myths, legends, and high adventures, but the truth about their real lives, motivations and exploits can today be found only in few surviving documents and the only authentic pirate wreck that was discovered under the waves of Caribbean. The Whydah was a pirate ship commanded by the fearless and incredibly greedy pirate Black Sam Bellamy, so-called Prince of Pirates and Robin Hood of the Seas, who terrorized Atlantic in 1716 and 1717.

“The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found” offers incredible insight into the life and adventures of Bellamy and his crew, who managed in in short time to amass great treasure. The discovery of his sunk ship in 1984 provided author Martin W. Sandler ample material to describe the life on pirate seas, dispel many myths, a showcase which pirate stereotypes, and explain to readers the harsh realities of life in early 18th century and how other parts of society interacted and thought about pirates.

Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean: The Adventurous Life of Captain Woodes Rogers

Another solid choice for discovering intricacies of life on the sea during the Golden Age of Piracy. David Cordingly already made our list of best non-fiction pirate books with “Under the Black Flag”, but here he returns with a new book that is focused more on the harsh lives of people who were tasked to hunt pirates across Caribbean and Atlantic. More precisely, this book manages to describe in great detail exploits of Captain Woodes Rogers, a professional pirate hunter, and a man who managed to rescue the marooned Alexander Selkirk whose harsh life story will provide a material that Daniel Dafoe will adapt in his famous “Robinson Crusoe” book.

“Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean” book also strays into many other subjects that are closely connected to the pirate life, such as general history of that time period, political and economic environments, factors that contributed to the rise of piracy, current laws and the general feeling of how much danger (both from nature and pirates) accompanied any crossing of Atlantic during those years.