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Under the Black Flag

The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates
Narrated by: Don Hagen
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (233 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For this rousing, revisionist history, the former head of exhibitions at England's National Maritime Museum has combed original documents and records to produce a most authoritative and definitive account of piracy's "Golden Age." As he explodes many accepted myths (i.e. "walking the plank" is pure fiction), Cordingly replaces them with a truth that is more complex and often bloodier.

©2006 David Cordingly (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

Critic Reviews

"An insightful, concise, and thoroughly enjoyable portrait of the misnamed Golden Age of Piracy...." ( Library Journal)
"Even if you don't know a corsair (a Mediterranean-based pirate) from a buccaneer (a Caribbean pirate), this book will delight and inform." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Lacks Nuance

Cordingly attempts to lump every sea-borne rogue from the sea-peoples of the ancient Mediterranean to Somali pirates in skiffs into one archetype, then share his reflections on that archetype. He would have been far more effective talking about specific subcultures of "pirates" and not trying to fit them all into one tidy model.

Cordingly also seems to inordinately dependent on a number of works either written by Daniel Defoe, or very closely linked to him. Another major source of research appears to be testimony of suspected pirates in British Admiralty courts. Granted, there is a paucity of primary material available, but both should have been treated with far more circumspection.

The narration was professional.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating fact vs. fiction book

This book focuses mainly on trying to sort the truth of historical piracy from the legends, myths, and romanticized popular views of piracy. The book is largely composed of stories and anecdotes about pirates, with each chapter tackling a different topic. It is not as a cohesive historical narrative, which seems to be the cause of some frustration for other reviewers. If that is what you're looking for, try "The Pirate Republic," by Colin Woodard. However, if you want to know if there is any factual basis for many of the tropes and clichés of piracy in popular culture, this is a really interesting and informative book... Just don't expect an exhaustive linear history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read

Very good read, information was in depth and enjoyable. Each topic concerning the history of pirates was researched and presented in great length.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Learn the true facts of pirates

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes , the complilation of stories, with explanation, Gave me a deeper understanding of the brutality of a pirates life

What did you like best about this story?

The examination of many of the pirates of the time and clearing of misconseption of ther life - For instance "walking the plank" has only one recording occurance.

Which character – as performed by Don Hagen – was your favorite?

All were great , since it was about many pirates

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The description of the torture , the description made these new films of robots and beasts look tame .

Any additional comments?

A must read for anyone interested in that time period and the Brotherhood of Pirates.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom
  • Wilminton, NC, United States
  • 09-24-12

Interesting and Informative

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I learned a little from this book, the author seemed to wander from topic to topic and the whole book was loosely tied together.

If you’ve listened to books by David Cordingly before, how does this one compare?

This is the first book buy the author, as I have mentioned it is an ok book, but I never really got the sense of what life was like during this time in history. I was expecting more of a history and fewer "stories"

Have you listened to any of Don Hagen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No this was my first time hearing him. He did a great job!

Was Under the Black Flag worth the listening time?

Yes and no. I wanted more information, more facts. The author bounces all over the place. The chapters are loosely connected, and only a few times does he point out that our modern conception of a pirate is very different than what are the facts.

Any additional comments?

Overall not a horrible book, but not what i was looking for.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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just the facts

What did you like best about this story?

I was happy to find a broad history of pirates. Given how hot pirates are in popular culture, it's nice to have a factual background.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would not want to listen to this all in one sitting. It can get a little dry. I broke it up over a period of time.

Any additional comments?

There was a section on punishment that was very gory. My son listed to portions of the book with me, but he could not have listed to this part, and I had a hard time getting through it. I understand its importance, but it was tough to listen to.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Informative

This was a great listen. it provided it provide an excellent insight into the life of a pirate. it wasn't all Glitz and glamour like Hollywood portrays it it was a tough life this book provides a look into that life

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A decent starting book on the subject.

I'm a new reader on the topic of the golden age of piracy, and this book felt approachable, but on the basis of the title and introductory materials I was hoping for a little more of an "everyday life" approach than the sort of top-down history presented here. A bit more material on the political situation in Europe in the time periods covered may have been helpful as well. Because this is nonfiction there is only rarely dialog, leaving the performer little space to vary his voice, and making for a less-than-dramatic reading. In the afterword the author takes a strange turn into a rather sexist pop-psychology theory for why the concept do pirates appeals, respectively, to men and women.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Daydreamer

If your a daydreamer like me, this is not a book for you. There was very little in it that held my attention. There is constant quoting of other books that makes me think there was very little effort actually put into writing an original book. the author could have saved a lot of time by simply making a list of other books or manuscripts to read. As for the narrator, his voice about put me to sleep. I'll read other reviews more carefully from now on.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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meh

it was a bit dull and Minautonus.. was good for background noise.. got a few interesting factoids but that's it..

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 03-15-17

Really informative

Really enjoyed the book despite the American pronunciation of so much of it. Perhaps the voice might learn to pronounce the words he's reading in future.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-09-18

Thorough at dispelling romanticism preconceptions

Non spoiler alert, but the last section offer a suitable historic footnote that articulates the misconceptions and romanticising of the subject matter, maybe watch the excellent Black Sails amalgamation of fact v fiction to help visualise the content the section of Hollywood’s makeover also reinforces idealised stereotypes that still pertain.
Grab a rum and immerse yourself to help visual sloops and the socio economic and political dynamic that still 300 years translate in elements of today’s society.
The author has done a excellent job of the realities of this period, from a reference point of view as a training tool, you need to take key window timeline of specific periods and events within the social context and frame around your own storytelling narrative. The crime, state retribution and punishment keeps you immersed beyond the usual key figures and the chapter on homosexuality is enlightening.
A couple of UK diction errors are more than made up for with French, Spanish and Chinese articulation


0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mrs
  • 11-21-15

Lacks narrative flair

This book is filled with great information but reads a bit too much like research notes, quite dry.