Adrian Tinniswood

Sheer Me Timbers!

Buccaneers of the Caribbean: How Piracy Forged an Empire, 1607–1697


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 368pp £25 order from our bookshop

The pirates of my childhood were a benign bunch. Captain Pugwash and the barely animated crew of the Black Pig outwitted the black-bearded, black-hearted Cut Throat Jake. A swashbuckling Errol Flynn beat the wicked French and won the heart of Olivia de Havilland in Sunday afternoon re-runs of Michael Curtiz’s 1935 masterpiece, Captain Blood. Even Robert Newton’s Long John Silver, whom I watched not in Disney’s Treasure Island but in a spin-off TV series, regularly ar-harred his way through poetry about buccaneers and buried gold and old romance. 

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