Review: The Buccaneer’s Realm

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Buccaneer’s Realm
by Benerson Little

Already a fan of The Sea Rover’s Practice (being the only book on pirate tactics written by a former Navy SEAL), you can imagine I was looking mighty forward to Benerson Little’s next book, The Buccaneer’s Realm: Pirate Life on the Spanish Main, 1674-1688.

Many books on piracy – in my experience – are entry level. They are written on the assumption that the reader has little or no prior knowledge of the subject matter, and therefore start at the beginning. I suppose this makes sense as it casts the widest net for gaining readers, but the downside is that many books on piracy cover the same basic turf again and again. While I don’t know Little’s intentions, it does seem to me that he has departed from this 101 template in favor of a more exploratory book of Buccaneering 201.

The Buccaneer’s Realm may be a bit difficult for the fresh reader looking for a narrative-style account of the age of these early rovers from beginning to end. This book is instead broken down by subject – one chapter on island hunter culture, another on common buccaneer food, and yet another on health and medicine. It makes for a unique read, but it can be a challenge to follow who’s who if your’e not already familiar with the famous persons and events of the day. BUT – and here’s the beauty part – if you’re already versed in the basics, The Buccaneer’s Realm is the perfect next step to further delve into these various facets of buccaneering life.

Little’s writing style is candid and straightforward. It’s not overly challenging to follow, but neither is this a book to breeze through when nodding off – attention and thought are both required. Due to the subject-driven structure of the book, this is also one of those rare tomes you can enjoy piecemeal – a chapter here, another there. While there is some reference to subjects addressed previously, most of the chapters manage to stand on their own.

The Buccaneer’s Realm holds up well against Little’s previous work, making two-for-two books that are truly must-haves for any true pirate scholar.