The Bottom Line
- Contains excellent, detailed biographies of notorious pirates such as Blackbeard
- Considered one of the most important primary sources about Golden Age pirates
- The copyright has long expired, so parts of the book are available for e-reader download for free
- Writing is dry for modern readers: many run-on sentences and confusing words and phrases
- Not for casual fans of pirates or the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
- Some modern editions only include the 1724 original and not Johnson's updates
- Contains biographies of many of the most important and interesting pirates of the time
- Contains letters, court documents and other important historical primary sources
- It has gone through many editions over the years: some have illustrations
Guide Review - Book Review: Captain Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates
This book is well worth reading, if you have a sincere interest in pirates and don't mind eighteenth-century vocabulary and syntax. It's considered by many to be the "bible" of pirates, and the description is well-warranted: this book has fired the imaginations of young and old alike for centuries now. Johnson (or Dafoe, as many believe) was a good writer for his time, and in spite of the dated writing style, the excitement does come through occasionally.
It's not the sort of book you sit down and read all at once: the chapters are easily divided so that you can skip over less important pirates (ever heard of Captain Nathaniel North? Thought not) and get right to the big boys: Blackbeard, Bartholomew Roberts, Edward Low, etc.