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Gentlemen of Fortune

Golden Age of Piracy 1680-1725 Living History

The Pirate's Library

If you are new to piracy, re-enacting, or just a student of history, nothing will serve you better than a decent home refrence library. With the sucess of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, there has been a whole host of new pirate books on the market, so the time has never been better to add to or start your own pirate library.

The books listed below have been listed as Amazon.com links and include the Amazon review/synopsis. Basically, if you are interested in any of these books, you can click on the link and be sent to Amazon to buy the book. In return, Amazon gives Gentlemen of Fortune a small percentage as a "thank you" for drumming up business. Its not much, but if you are going to buy the book anyway, and have found this site useful, its a nice way for everyone to say, "Thank you!"

For some reason, this seems to work better on Internet Explorer... sorry.

General Pirate History and Pirate Bios

A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates - Captain Johnson

Johnson's book is an immensely readable history and represents the major source of information about piracy in the early 18th century. Originally published in 1724, the book was reprinted due to demand that same year with a third edition in 1725 and an expanded/enlarged fourth edition in 1726.

It accounts the daring and bloody deeds of all the big name GAoP pirates, such as Edward Teach, Captain Kidd, Mary Read, Anne Bonny, many others. A New Introduction provides insights into the origins and significance of this important historical work. If you are going to have just one pirate book, this may be it.

Under the Black Flag - David Cordingly

For this rousing, revisionist history, the former head of exhibitions at England's National Maritime Museum has combed original documents and records to produce a most authoritative and definitive account of piracy's "Golden Age." As he explodes many accepted myths (i.e. "walking the plank" is pure fiction), Cordingly replaces them with a truth that is more complex and often bloodier

Villians of All Nations - Marcus Rediker

Villains of All Nations explores the "Golden Age" of Atlantic piracy  and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates. This history shows from the bottom up how sailors emerged from deadly working conditions on merchant and naval ships, turned pirate, and created a starkly different reality aboard their own ships. The real lives of this motley crew which included cross-dressing women, people of color, and the "outcasts of all nations" are far more compelling than contemporary myth.

The History of Pirates - Angus Konstam

Angus Konstam takes us through a general history of piracy on the seas, from the ancient raiders of Babylonia and Greece to the modern-day guerillas in the south China Sea. Each chapter is well illustrated with period paintings and photographs, with particular focus on the "Golden Age of Piracy" in the 16th and 17th century when galleons and merchant brigs carried gold, jewels, sugar, cotton, and rum from the Spanish Main to the American colonies and Europe.

It's an entertaining history of piracy, though It may not have the depth of some of the more scholastically-oriented books available.  Still, this book is a good place to start when building your library.

The Buccaneers of America -Alexander Exquemelin

Translated from the Dutch by Alexis Brown. Fascinating chronicle of the bands of plundering sea rovers who roamed the Caribbean and coastlines of Central America in the 17th century. Detailed accounts of shrewd and fearless men, excellent navigators, and blood-thirsty adventurers who frequently committed inhuman acts of cruelty—among them the infamous Henry Morgan, whose exploits culminated in the seizure and burning of Panama City. For readers intrigued by piracy, maritime history, and drama on the high seas

The Pirate Hunter -Richard Zacks

Captain Kidd has gone down in history as America's most ruthless buccaneer, fabulously rich, burying dozens of treasure chests up and down the eastern seaboard. But it turns out that most everyone, even many respected scholars, have the story all wrong. Captain William Kidd was no career cut-throat; he was a tough, successful New York sea captain who was hired to chase pirates. His three-year odyssey aboard the aptly named Adventure galley pitted him against arrogant Royal Navy commanders, jealous East India Company captains, storms, starvation, angry natives, and, above all, flesh-and-blood pirates. Superbly written and impeccably researched, The Pirate Hunter is one ripping good yarn

Pirate (DK Eyewitness Books)

Here is a spectacular and informative guide to the dangerous and adventurous life of piracy, privateering, and buccaneering. Superb, full color photographs of weapons, ships, flags, maps, and treasure offer a unique and revealing "eyewitness" view of pirate life on the high seas. See a pirate's cutlass and pistols, a letter of marquee - the pirate's license, a hoard of pirate treasure, a real pirate costume and the many different kinds of Jolly Roger. Learn how pirates attacked a Spanish treasure ship, why European kings and queens encouraged piracy, which Caribbean islands were pirate hideouts, what pirate ate at sea and why women pirates disguised themselves as men. Discover what kinds of ship the pirates sailed in, how governments tried to stamp out piracy and why skillful navigation was so important to pirates, and much, much more!

Bandits At Sea - C.R. Pennell

This book is a collection of scholarly essays on the subject of historical piracy the world over. It's divided into two sections, "Situating Piracy" and "Pirates in Action." Essays in the first section are more general/historical, discussing piracy in general as a career, its effects on local economies and politics, its role in warfare and trade. The second section focuses more on specific pirates/crews/ships/cultures, and spans a wide range of topics, from Cheng I Sao's Chinese pirate fleet, to minorities in piracy (gays, blacks, women, etc), to the little-known pirate culture of the Adriatic Uskoks. There's a section of illustration plates in the center of the book, comprised of various historical/period woodcuts, engravings, maps, portraits, diagrams, and other media.

Pirates, Adventurers of the High Seas - David F. Marley

This book constitutes a well researched and entertaining book on the History of Pirates in the New World. It covers the rise of buccaneering, and the realities which made it possible as well as the decline of Piracy in the American Continent, and the changing conditions in politics, economy and war that left no place for pirates in the Western World. The last chapter describes the "Golden Age of Piracy" when the most famous pirate chieftains, such as Blackbeard, Major Bonnet, Calico Jack and Charles Vane operated.  The author focuses mainly on Buccaneers, and reviews the turbulent relations between the Spanish Crown and the English and French Filibustiers who plundered the Spanish towns and ports in a secret and bizarre alliance with the English and French Crowns.

Osprey's Pirates 1660-1730

Most re-enactors cut their teeth on an Osprey book, regardless of the period they are interested in. Pirates has 60 b/w and 12 color illustrations. The dashing, flamboyant pirate remains one of the most enduringly romantic figures of history but the image is inaccurate. This book traces the origins of pirate activity in the 16th century and examines the Buccaneer culture in Jamaica and Hispaniola. While the illustrations in this book might not be as accurate as we would like, it still quenches the thirst for information long enough to let you get more substantial fare

Costume History and Fashion References

Textiles in America 1650-1870 - Florence M. Montgomery

The is probably "The BOOK" to own regarding historical textiles and fabrics. It offers an overview of textiles in America, based on years of research, that is unmatched in scope. This book illustrates samples from collections around the world, as well as drawings and engravings of the time. Its dictionary-style entries depict the myriad household uses for textiles in the period. Drawing on original documents, prints, paintings, commercial records, merchant papers, advertisements, and pattern books, Textiles in America 1650-1870 is a comprehensive resource and a treasure trove of scholarship. 117 color, 225 black-and-white illustrations.

A History of Costume -Carl Kohler

The text of this book is dry, but very informative. There are many sketched and black and white illustrations, but not enough to fully support the text. (I recommend Boucher's 20,000 Years of Fashion as a companion). The patterns give a better idea of the construction of the clothes, but they are approximations and no tips are given for making your own. Make sure you refer to other sources before using his patterns. This book is most useful for its detailed descriptions of specific periods, including not just the cut and style of the period, but also material, shoes, hairstyles, accessories, and who wore what and how and on what occasions.

English Costume from the Seventeenth Through the Nineteenth Centuries - Iris Brooke

Outstanding reference spans 300 years of fashion history—from the gay and extravagant costumes of the Stuart period to such innovations as cycling knickerbockers for women in the late 19th century. Over 400 detailed, accurate illustrations (including 28 plates in full color) also provide important details of hair styles, beards, hats, and cravats. For costumes historians, designers, and anyone interested in the evolution of English wearing apparel.

Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries - Avril Hart

This popular book offers a rare, close-up look at the exquisite, labor-intensive details seen in fine historical clothing. Perfect decorative seams, minute stitching, knife-sharp pleats, and voluptuous drapery--all are here, alongside more unusual techniques such as stamping, pinking, and slashing. Most of these effects cannot be replicated by machine, yet many of today's fashion designers take their inspiration from the past, adapting these details to a more contemporary idiom, and to the realities of modern manufacturing.

While this book has very few items from the 1690-1720 timeframe. It does give a greater insight to clothing construction and materials for the period. If you love historical clothing, you will love this book.

The Cut of Men's Clothes: 1600-1900 - Nora Waugh

This book traces the evolution of the style of men's dress through a sequence of diagrams accurately scaled down from patterns of actual garments, many of them rare museum specimens. The plates have been selected with the same purpose. Some are photographs of suits for which diagrams have also been given; others, reproduced from paintings and old prints, show the costume complete with its accessories. Quotations from contemporary sources--from diaries, travelers' accounts and tailors' bills--supplements Miss Waugh's text with comments on fashion and lively eyewitness descriptions.


Swords and Blades of the American Revolution - George C. Neumann

Nearly 750 individual swords, knives, axes (including tomahawks), bayonets, and pole arms, shown in detailed photos with dimensions, weights, and provenance of the weapons. This is an excellent reference book for all weapons from about 1650-1800. It includes, swords, knives, bayonetts, axes and pikes.

Don't let "of the American Revolution" in the title fool you. It covers every possible weapon that could have been used in the Revolution and the development of those weapon types. Everything from 1600-1800 is equally represented.

Battle Weapons of the American Revolution - George C. Neumann

A companion to the above book, this has one of the most extensive photographic collection of Revolutionary War weapons ever in one volume. Features detailed views of Colonial, English and French weapons from private collections, most of which have NEVER BEEN IN PRINT! Over 1,600 photos of over 500 muskets, rifles, pistols, swords, bayonets, knives and other arms used by both sides in America's War for Independence. Multiple views of almost every weapon, along with pertinent measurements (ex. overall, pull, lock, caliber and weight). Again, don't let the title fool you, this book includes weapons that date to the GAoP and is an excellent reference

Boarders Away! Vol 1

A study of naval armament under fighting sail. This first volume covers axes, pikes and fighting blades in use between 1626 and 1826 - tracing their development in the navies of England and Northern Europe through that of the United States. Heavily illustrated with art and photography including an 8-page color section. A must for anyone interested in Naval Arms.

Students of navy history in the age of fighting sail are in for a feast! This is the BEST book I've read to date on the firearms of the sea service. From muskets, pistols, volley guns, carronades, grenades and other incindiaries, Gilkerson does an outstanding job with the subject. By the time I was finished with this one, I was ready to strap on a cutlass and a brace of pistols! Peter Stines

Boarders Away! Vol 2

Completing a two-volume set, this book covers the pistols, muskets, combustibles and small cannon used aboard American and European fighting ships, 1626-1826. There are 200 photos plus technical and historical drawings

This book is well documented, with exceptional line drawings and painting. Unfortunately, the GAoP sections always have the least amount of information and the book is weighted heavily for the American Revolution/AWI, it still is about the best reference readily available.

Ships and Sailing

The Pirate Ship 1660-1730 - Osprey

This is an interesting little book that follows the Osprey format. Not necessarily brimming with information, but one of the few books dedicated specifically to GAoP Pirate Ships. While most of the information is found in other sources, this puts it all together in the Osprey's familiar "neat little package" so you can scratch your itch when you need quick ship information.

The 50 Gun Ship - Rif Winfield

Sunk off the Cape Cod shoreline in the eighteenth century, the Whydah represents the only salvaged pirate ship to date. Through meticulous research and frantic fund-raising efforts, Clifford located the site of the Whydah's wreck and has thus far resurfaced more than 200,000 of its artifacts. Clifford balances tales of his own exploits with history and pirate lore, fleshing out the background of the Whydah's captain, "Black" Sam Bellamy, as well as other key pirates of that era.

The Marlinspike Sailor - Hervey Garrett Smith

In a category with few other references, The Marlinespike Sailor is the go-to guide when you have time for fancy work projects. The step-by-step illustrations are nicely rendered and the descriptions and lore are amusing. Any REAL Bosun's Mate should have a copy in his possession. Its one of those things you don't pull out too often, but when you or a friend need a good "how-to" for making a coachwhipping or a plaited sennit, its priceless

More to come

And here too!