Review: Caribbean Pirates

Rating: ★★★½☆
Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
by George Beahm

Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore, is exactly as it claims – a vast collection of pirate data culled from many sources. In the past I’ve reviewed books of this same format, and questioned the usefullness of such works, this being the digital age where information is never more than a few mouse-clicks away. Author George Beahm, however, has no small experience in this matter – he’s previously written a large line of pop culture reference books, with topics ranging from Harry Potter to seafood (and pretty much everything in between.) Having read Caribbean Pirates, I can now see the value of such a book, as Beahm does an excellent job of not only collecting, but compiling, processing, and conveying pirate data into a final product that’s both informative and entertaining.

The primary intended audience for Caribbean Pirates appears to be fans of the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, and it’s through this prism that most all the information is presented. Section 1, in fact, contains 41 Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired questions (Was there really a Captain Barbossa? Was there a Pirate Code?) Most of them could be answered in a word or two (No, yes), but are instead used as springboards to share genuine historical knowledge (let’s talk about the Barbarossa Brothers and then the ship’s articles held on so many pirate vessels.) This makes for a fine educational voyage, in that it takes the enthusiasm garnered by the movies and redirects it towards the wider world of piracy as a whole.

Section 2 goes on to address such matters as pirate terminology, clothing, festivals, and all other ways to capture the pirate spirit in your own life. The clothing section again offers much that is specific to the movies (how to recreate the Sparrow, Barbossa, and Swann looks, for example), but also contains plenty of information useful for those charting their own path.

Following sections go on to cover the requisite lists of movies, books, and websites, plus an enormous 90-question true/false quiz, compete with answers and detailed explanations.

All told, Caribbean Pirates is a fine book of introductory pirate lore. Its usefullness surely peaks amonst pirate novices, although the full color photos and easy writing style may be enjoyed by more seasoned scalliwaggs as well.

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