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So here it is : Captain Kidd's mission is to go chase
pirates--men who would rather die than surrender. He is to travel
in a lone ship
It is not too much to say that men like William Kidd made me a reader,
and one suspects the same is true for many of my generation. In 5th
All of which makes it a particularly pleasant experience to read this entertaining and authoritative rehabilitation of Kidd by Richard Zacks. As Mr. Zacks shows in exhaustive, and perhaps a bit exhausting, detail, William Kidd was not really the scoundrel pirate of legend but a duly deputized privateer, sent out to capture pirates in exchange for a share of their loot. It was only through a series of unfortunate mishaps and the repeated intervention of a hitherto uncelebrated nemesis, Robert Culliford, that Kidd himself came to be accused of piracy and ended up dangling from the end of a rope. Mr. Zacks relates the sorrowful tale of Kidd's 1696 expedition, that set out from Manhattan aboard the Adventure Galley but ended on a London gallows in 1701.
Mr. Zacks is a zealous advocate for Kidd's innocence and his passion is contagious. But Kidd makes for a doomed and tragic hero, what with a mutinous crew, an unsturdy ship, feckless backers, and the bedeviling presence time and again of his rival, Culliford. Kidd's behavior, as presented here, is genuinely admirable, particularly his determination to clear his name after he'd been wrongly accused of piracy in the taking of two ships. Kidd essentially put his own neck in the noose by sailing back to New York to face the charges.
It was in New York that the legend that he'd hidden his treasure arose, and Mr. Zacks shows us why. In fact, this is just one of many myths and legends that Mr. Zacks lays to rest, but part of what makes the book so enchanting is that the truths he reveals are just as compelling as the fictions they replace. In particular, despite the enduring image of ruthless captains wielding iron discipline, it's interesting to discover just how democratic the pirate society really was. But no truth is more beguiling than the real life Captain Kidd who we're introduced to. If the book is a bit too long and too minute by minute, which I believe to be the case, it is nonetheless carried along by Kidd and by our desire, though we know it futile, to see justice done him and barring that, our almost equally strong desire to see Culliford and some of the others who wronged Kidd get their comeuppances. But few do and as for Kidd :
William Kidd, born in Dundee, married in New York,
hanged in London, was then hoisted in chains onto the oak gibbet at Tilbury.
The poor benighted Captain would have to wait three hundred years for Richard Zacks to come along and set the record straight, which with the help of a painstakingly assembled historical record and a key piece of evidence uncovered in 1911 in the dense thickets of the British bureaucracy he does.
-REVIEW: of The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks (Michael Ledeen, National Review)
Book-related and General Links:
-AUTHOR SITE : Richard Zacks (Bold Type)
-BOOK SITE : Pirate Hunter
-BOOK SITE : The Pirate Hunter : The True Story of Captain Kidd By Richard Zacks (Hyperion)
-BOOK SITE : Pirate
-EXCERPT : from The Pirate Hunter
-INTERVIEW : with Richard Zacks (Diane Rehm, July 8, 2002)
-ESSAY : Execution of Captain Kidd : May 23rd, 1701 (History Today, May 01 2001 by Richard Cavendish)
-REVIEW : of The Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon)
-REVIEW : of Pirate Hunter (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
-REVIEW : of Pirate Hunter (Steven Martinovich, CS Monitor)
-REVIEW : of The Pirate Hunter (Chris Madsen, Culture Dose)
-REVIEW : of Pirate Hunter (Shannon Bloomstran, Mostly Fiction)
-REVIEW : of Pirate Hunter (Christopher Cox, Boston Herald)
-REVIEW : of Pirate Hunter (D. R. Peak, PopMatters)