Arrrr, Matey!: 6 Books about Pirates for Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day

September 19th is Talk-Like-a-Pirate-Day! While real pirates in history were scary, smelly people who killed a lot of other people, for some reason their lives as masters of the high seas hold a continuing romance and fascination for us today. From the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to, yes, Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day, we just can’t seem to get enough of these rascally sailors so take today to indulge; say “Ahoy, matey” to all your friends, let “Arrr” be your response of choice, and try reading one of the titles below!


book cover image pirate shipUnder the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly

Under the Black Flag presents a revisionist history of the true lives and exploits of pirates. By researching through first-hand accounts and original records, Cordingly reconstructs the truth of the Golden Age of Piracy, examining what these pirates ate,what they wore, and how they acted. Along the way he debunks some popular myths (such as pirates forcing captives to walk the plank) and takes a close look at several famous pirates both real and fictional. Through the book Cordingly examines too why these brutal, murderous characters should hold so much interest for us still today.


Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

In 1665 Jamaica piracy of a sort is condoned by the British crown under the name of privateering as long as the ships attacked are Spanish. Captain Edward Hunter is planning to take advantage of this fact by capturing the Spanish treasure ship, El Trinidad, which is carrying huge amounts of gold back to Spain. Hunter puts together a crew to raid the ship while it is at anchor undergoing repairs in a nearby Spanish port. After devastating battles both on land and on sea, Hunter finds himself in possession of El Trinidad, but keeping it it another matter entirely.


book cover image water with whale, pirate flag, man on horse, seagull, cactusThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab by Gideon Defoe

Pirate Captain is a pirate unlike any you’ve seen before. Worried that his crew are becoming bored with the usual shipboard activities, such as trying to make a bouncy castle out of jellyfish, Pirate Captain leads them on a new adventure, which begins when they mistakenly capture Charles Darwin’s The Beagle, thinking it contains treasure. Their voyage leads them from the Galapagos to Victorian England, along the way pitting their wits and Pirate Captain’s uncompromisingly shiny beard against all manner of mysterious and dangerous foes up to and including the Queen herself.


The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman

While not a tale focused solely on pirates, William Goldman’s brilliant satirical novel does have a pirate character at its heart in Westley, the farmboy turned Dread Pirate Roberts whose misreported demise sends his true love Buttercup into despair. In her grief she is about to marry Prince Humperdink when the Dread Pirate Roberts rescues her from a trio of remarkable kidnappers and she finds her true love alive again. The exploits of Westley, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, are the stuff of legends as he traverses the fire swamp, is brought back to life after being killed, and ultimately storms the castle to rescue his true love. No list of books featuring pirates would be complete without a mention of The Princess Bride and the Dread Pirate Roberts.


Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

A doctor in a small English town in the 1680’s, Peter Blood has no strong feelings about the crown one way or another, but he is caught up in the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth when he unknowingly saves the life of a rebel brought to his door. Convicted for a treason he did not commit and sold into indentured servitude in the West Indies, Blood’s agile mind and his knowledge as a doctor are quickly recognized as belonging to no ordinary criminal. While working in the West Indies he falls in love with the daughter of the man who purchased him, but when an attack by the Spanish on the English town where he is held offers him a chance, he escapes his bondage and commandeers a vessel, soon becoming the most feared pirate in the West Indies. Sabatini’s swashbuckling tale is filled with romance and adventure, and Blood is a classic pirate hero, seeking both justice and redemption.


The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward

In the early 1700s a number of the great pirate captains joined forces and formed the infamous “Flying Gang,” which was more than simply a band of thieves. Many of the pirates in this gang had chosen piracy in response to the harsh conditions of the merchant fleets and colonies and were inspired by ideas of self-governance. This group established a rudimentary form of democracy in the Bahamas, creating their own region of freedom. While they were eventually taken down by merchant fleet owner Captain Woodes Rogers, here Woodward examines this unique epoch in the Golden Age of Piracy.