Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bootylicious, and Other Piratical Links

I am getting a jump on Talk Like a Pirate Day with a roundup on decidedly non-Northwest links.

First, and the impetus for the post, a charming New Yorker essay by Caleb Crain: Bootylicious: A History of Pirates. Like much of what Crain does, it is a model of how popular history should be written. "On the evening of April 1, 1719, an English slave ship came to anchor near the mouth of the Rokel River, off the coast of what is now Sierra Leone. In the hold were linen and woollen goods that could be traded for slaves, fava beans to feed them, and, for the officers, cheese, butter, sugar, and Westphalia ham, as well as live geese, turkeys, ducks, and a sow. The captain, a devout man named William Snelgrave, was apprehensive, because the west coast of Africa was rife with pirates . . ." You know that Snelgrave is in a world of trouble. Crain offers a review of pirate historiography, a sweeping history of piracy, explanation of pirate society, and a review of a new book by Peter T. Leeson, The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. (Preceding links includes a video interview with Leeson and a sample chapter.)

The blogosphere is swarming with black-hearted piratical content right now. Crain's fine blog, Steamboats are Ruining Everything, has a series of pirate posts. Start with this one. And A Lively Experiment, the excellent blog of the Rhode Island Historical Society, is running a series of posts on the pirate-related items in their collections.

(On a personal note, my 9-year-old son, a bright boy and a fan of Captain Jack Sparrow, became fascinated with these 300 year old directions to pirate treasure. As I write this he is pouring over an atlas map of the Caribbean trying to match up the cryptic "J L" and "B O" to some modern feature. I am impressed by the way he is thinking historically--"Dad! Do we have a map of the Caribbean that was made in 1719? Because the names might be different now!" "Dad! Is there a biography of the guy who wrote the directions? Because then we could see where he went and narrow it down." The poor kid is ruined.)


Katrina said...

You should set out to find it and make a show for the History Channel.

Larry Cebula said...

"Tonight on the History Channel: How the curiosity of a 9-year-old boy and historical training of his father led the two to riches!"

I like it.