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Publisher's Summary

They were legalized pirates empowered by the Continental Congress to raid and plunder, at their own considerable risk, as much enemy trade as they could successfully haul back to America's shores. They played a decisive role in America's struggle for independence and later turned their seafaring talents to the slave trade, revealing the conflict between enterprise and morality central to American history.

In Patriot Pirates, Robert H. Patton, the grandson of the battlefield genius of World War II, explains how privatizing engaged all levels of Revolutionary life, from the dockyards to the assembly halls; how it gave rise to wild speculation in purchased shares in privateer ventures, enabling sailors to make more money in a month than they might earn in a year; and how privatizing created fortunes that survive to this day.

As one naval historian wrote, "The great battles of the American Revolution were fought on land, but independence was won at sea."

Patton tells how, in addition to its strategic and economic importance, privatizing played a large political role in the Revolution. For example, Benjamin Franklin, from his diplomatic post in Paris, secretly encouraged skippers to sell their captured goods in French ports - a calculated effort on Franklin's part to break the neutrality agreements between France and Britain, bring the two countries to blows, and take the pressure off American fighters.

This is a sweeping tale of maritime rebel-entrepreneurs bent on personal profit and national freedom.

©2008 Robert H. Patton; (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[Patriot Pirates] is a well-written examination of an obscure aspect of American military history." (Booklist)
"An absorbing exhumation of an undersung subject that will be of particular interest to Revolution buffs." (Publishers Weekly)
"An illuminating look at an underappreciated chapter of the Revolutionary War: the daring, faintly disreputable, privateer war on British maritime interests...a pleasing mixture of high-seas adventure and shrewd analysis." (Kirkus Reviews)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great topic - poor treatment

Neither concise nor comprehensive nor difinitive

Unfortunately, this book is not a history of the Privateering war during the Revolution but instead meerly provides a number of case studies taken seemingly at random of American Privateers and those who invested or profited from them. Additionally, many of these case studies include exceptionally long tangents into subjects that have very little to do with privateering. For example, much of the book is devoted to the great General Nathanial Greene merely because he invested and lost money on privateers. Another case is the decidedly undue amount of attention paid to the slave-trading activities of people who also were privateers. The author also makes his low opinion of privateers evident. In answering the question, "Is a privateer a licensed pirate or is a pirate an unlicensed privateer?" the author clearly thinks the privateer is a pirate.

I cam to the book hoping for an assessment of the privateering "guerre de course" of the American Revolution and was terribly disappointed. The big historical question is: Did the American Privateers significantly affect the course of the war and if so how? That question was not even addressed.

This book does have a limited role however. If you are already familiar with American Privateers, this gives you a worm's eye view of the "trade" from the perspective of crewmen, captains, owners, and investors. For that limited purpose alone I would recommend the book. (This is what lifts my rating from two stars to three.) Even then, I would advise looking elsewhere.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carroll
  • Hilo, HI, United States
  • 09-17-11

Great insites on the Rev war naval struggle

A under-reported in modern history books... the raider / pirate / entrepenour aspects of the attacks on sea borne commerce during our Rev war is very useful for its thoroughness!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Hollister, CA, USA
  • 05-25-09

Bet you didn't know this

This tells a side to the American Revolution that I really never appreciated. It is a great story that delves well beyond the typical understanding of the Revolution, and it is simply amazing how useful this understanding is within the context of international relations today. To know how the U.S. was really born as a nation is quite interesting. Great book. Spends a fair amount of time off the oceans though, which is fine.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

I find myself wanting to hear it again

The book gave me a deeper understanding of the period, the politics and the characters involved. I find myself recalling details I heard often. I never knew how many of our founding fathers were involved in our early Navy. It is a bit long however I will listen again.