Review: Hunting Pirate Heaven

Rating: ★★★★★
Hunting Pirate Heaven: In Search of the Lost Pirate Utopias of the Indian Ocean
by Kevin Rushby

OK, get this. The author is hanging out on the beach one day and talks to a stranger who mentions how pirates once built their own kingdoms in Madagascar. The author then decides to go check it out for himself, but rather than fly or rent a ship he mooches, finesses, and bribes his way one island at a time, meeting the strangest assortment of folks along the way.

This man is my hero.

True piracy, at least its romantic swashbuckling form, is dead. But its ghost clings tightly to Kevin Rushby’s exploits as he works his way slowly towards Madagascar through jungles, riots, whale orgies, and most every other sort of obstacle imaginable. But this isn’t really a book about adventure – it’s about reality, and how reality in other parts of the world can be so different from our own. Rushby survives various cultures and climates just trying to make it from one day to the next, getting food and lodging where and how he can. And all the while he slowly works his way towards Madagascar in hope of finding pirate descendents and some form of evidence that pirate utopias once existed. When he finally reaches the conclusion of his search, what he does discover is surprising (and I thought very satisfying.)

I love to travel, but am unlikely to island-hop my way to Madagascar anytime soon. I envy Kevin Rushby’s experiences, and I’m grateful he saw fit to record them in such an entertaining and informative manner. A must read, and a wonderfully refreshing change of pace from the typical historical or fictional pirate novel.