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Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  22 reviews
With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”―spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s―
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Liveright
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Eric Dolin It is history, non-fiction. Here is a review that just came out from Sea History Magazine, and some other pre-pub reviews.

"Black Flags, Blue Waters…more
It is history, non-fiction. Here is a review that just came out from Sea History Magazine, and some other pre-pub reviews.

"Black Flags, Blue Waters is a fast-paced scholarly narrative about seamen who turned rogue to terrorize the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic. . . . Dolin has produced an elegantly written history. His streaming writing style makes for enjoyable reading, and his penchant for distinguishing where fact has been garnished and morphed into legend creates sundry unexpected revelations. These romantic or repulsive sea rovers continue to captivate the imaginations of the public. Over the years, many books about pirates have been published, but Black Flags, Blue Waters is distinctive and an excellent addition to this subdivision of maritime history."

“[Dolin] revels in the marauding adventures of these high-seas brigands while explaining factors, economic and political, involved in the rise and decline of the piratical phenomenon. … Amply illustrated, Dolin's realistic rendition of piracy, which he contrasts with its romanticized, Jolly Roger image, will enthrall readers seeking a new take on this ever-popular topic.—Booklist.

“In this informative volume . . . Dolin more than meets his objective of separating fact from fiction . . . an excellent starting point for readers interested in this misunderstood chapter of American history.” —Publishers Weekly

“Dolin has penned masterly histories of North American whaling (Leviathan), lighthouses (Brilliant Beacons), and now piracy. . . . VERDICT A colorful and well-researched study of piracy's glory days, rooted in historical context. Sure to appeal to pirate enthusiasts as well as serious researchers.”—Library Journal

"Intriguing history of piracy's heyday . . . Dolin helpfully dismisses some of the more potent pirate myths. . . . [and offers] an informative and often entertaining blend of narrative history and analysis that should appeal to a general audience." –Kirkus Reviews


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Cindy Vallar
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For five decades encompassing the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, pirates played an integral role in colonial history and life. Initially, they were welcomed, but as the years passed, what was once profitable coexistence became a dogged determination to eradicate these sea marauders.

Black Flags, Blue Waters presents the “celebrities” of this “golden age” of piracy with a narrowly focused lens. Most comparable volumes look at this historical period in a broad manner that encompas
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.
Josh Liller
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
I picked this up because I quite enjoyed two of the author's previous works, Brilliant Beacons and Leviathan. I'm not a pirate "fan" but I do find the subject somewhat interesting.

BFBW takes some unusual directions. First, it focuses on the Golden Age of Piracy, but Dolin includes the late 1600s as well rather than just 1715-1726 (a quick internet search indicates this view his view is not unusual; it's simply not what I was familiar with). Second, it focuses on pirates who were from the America
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A detailed, well researched and compelling account of the golden age of piracy, through it's eventual decline. Other pirate books have focused on the exploits of the pirates, or on individual pirates and their careers, or on pirate "society", this book was different in that delved deep into the working relationship between pirates and the colonies of early America and New England.

Although everyone naturally thinks of the Caribbean when they think of pirates, no one really con
Christopher Klein
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eric Jay Dolin writes a rollicking history of the "Golden Age" of American piracy. "Black Flags, Blue Waters" is not only heavily researched, but extremely readable. Much of what I thought I knew about pirates hadn't progressed much beyond the romanticized tales of buried treasure and swashbuckling buccaneers that captivates nearly every schoolchild, but the real history in "Black Flags, Blue Waters" is just as compelling.

What I found most fascinating in reading the book was the fact that, duri
Gerard Villegas
A great history of the more well-known figures of piracy like Captain Morgan and Blackbeard. The book details the race for exploration between Spain and England and how each was affected by both political and economic motivations. Though it touches upon its application to modern day piracy, it does leave out some other influential pirates like Mary Read and Anne Bonnie. Still, a good nonfiction book nonetheless.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Extremely well-researched and informative, this work could be used as a textbook on the subject.

As entertainment, the book falls short, meandering on, slowly dripping trails of facts, with the feel of a never-ending reading assignment.
Carolyn Davis
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eric Jay Dolin writes entertainingly about many seafaring topics, even unsavory ones, in this case, piracy.. A specialist in ocean life, he also writes about the history of lighthouses, and the questionable joys and misadventures of pursuing PhD. studies. His books are to print what Ken Burns' documentaries are to film.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica. Subsequent to that, I researched many subjects about the West Indies. Black Flags, Blue Waters' history is presented in an easy narrative
Lynn Coulter
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you've got a drop of salt water in your veins or a thing for Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow, you should read Eric Jay Dolin's new book, Black Flags, Blue Waters. There's just something about pirates that seems so romantic and mysterious--although the more I read about them, the more I realize how bloodthirsty and greedy they became, after initially being welcomed to the North American colonies. Dolin also debunked some myths I'd heard (nobody walked the plank or buried treasure on Gardiner ...more
Urey Patrick
Interesting... but tedious in large part. I suppose that is a feat in itself, making a history of pirates an exercise in tedium, but as it turnout, that is more historically accurate than the swashbuckling tales of violence and derring-do. There were buckles swashed, and daring deeds done, to be sure... but they were more notable for their infrequent occurrence. Dolin depicts the actualities of pirate economics interwoven within colonial coastal economies and nourished by the corruption of colon ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
“Swashbucklers along the Colonial American Coast”

This non-fiction book proves a pleasure to read, as it plows its way between the murky waters of pirate lore and seaweed swells of documented facts. Dolin presents a chronological history of piracy mainly in the Caribbean but also around Madagascar. You will sympathize with the Crown’s never-ending battle against privateers-turned-pirates (or perhaps not…), be scandalized by the brutality of many pirate captains, and vacillate with the colonists
David Bales
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Enshrined in popular mythology as admirable scamps, (mostly by the imagery in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island") pirates--or privateers, if you prefer--were, for lack of a better word, criminals on the high seas. Ordinary trade, commerce and law was thrown overboard as pirates were financed and encouraged by nation-states to attack the trade ships of their enemies. Starting in the late-sixteenth century with Sir Francis Drake, (knighted for his plunder of Spanish ships) state-supported ...more
Patrick SG
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting and complete account of piracy related to English America and those based there. The focus is on English in this case, with emphasis on the 13 original colonies. With that in mind, the story does cover piracy around the world if connected to English America. Its emphasis is on the late 17th and early 18th century and does not address piracy in the Mediterranean like the Barbary Pirates of the late 18th and early 19th centuries as those pirates were African. It does cover piracy co ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pirates are so interesting. They are a fairly consistent part of pop culture, every kid is familiar with at least one pirate, fiction or otherwise. This book did a good job of diving in on the history of pirates as related to America. A lot of time is spent on the men, ships, and routes based out of or in other ways interacting heavily with the colonies. I thought it was neat to learn about that relationship, how pirates were basically on friendly terms with the colonies for so long, how they he ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book- engagingly written and tells the story of an important period of history of the colonies that became the United States, as seen through the lens of global piracy on the colonial coasts and the high seas. Dolin has meticulously researched this and presents a very balanced assessment - just a lot of fun to read I recommend it to you if you like history, seafaring tales, pirates and treasure - what's not to like? Joe
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up as a light read between two weightier tomes and it was what I wanted. The book focuses on pirates from or who plied their trade in what would become the United States. It's a good narrative history and some of the tales are very memorable. It's not a deep dive, it's not an adventure tale, it's a nice easy read on an in interesting subject.
Brett Van Gaasbeek
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is interesting at times, but drags through some of the parts and makes it very difficult to get into and interested in the subjects. The book tends to focus on minutiae of the pirate culture instead of telling tales of the pirate leaders and their crews in detail. I guess I expected a little more narrative history out of this subject.
Jonathan Bobb
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very in depth. should have started with “Under the black flag” first
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating look back at the Pirate era and the reasons for Pirates and how they helped colonies at times economic wise
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent writing. Very detailed. Learned a lot about this period of American history
John P. Davidson
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit too violent for my taste but informative and engrossing.
Rob Hawley
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Oct 15, 2018
James Orange
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Sep 27, 2018
Brian Hamilton
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Oct 21, 2018
Michael Rodriguez
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Justin Metzger
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Nov 13, 2018
Joel Mc Mahon
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Nov 03, 2018
Lori Sheats
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Oct 14, 2018
Mark Polino
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Oct 29, 2018
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I love telling dramatic, sometimes wondrous, and often tragic stories about people, commerce, maritime history, and the environment. My goal is to entertain and inform, and leave people glad that they took the time to read one of my books.

My most recent book is Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates (Liveright (a division of W. W. Norton), September 2018).