AS GOOD AS IT CAN BE

THE REPUBLIC OF PIRATES

COLIN WOODARD

This is a very readable book about diverse subjects who have very little substance. I wanted to learn about pirates who have been characterized in history, by Walt Disney, in cartoons and in art. I read this book, and I learned what happened to them and what happened to the people who put an end to them.

Pirate society, however, is not a republic.. It is similar to a mafia or an organized crime syndicate: get money by anyway possible, generally release the victims so they will go off and work to get more money and property, drink to incapacity every day, rape and otherwise be included in a society of men seeking spontaneity, caprice and ease. Sociologically, pirate society was similar to cults; it has elements of male dominated philosophies and societies which appeared in twentieth century countries where mass-murder was accepted (Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda).

A full analysis of the sociology is likely impossible. There are too few historical sources; projecting modern theories into the Seventieth Century seems impossible.

Despite these shortcomings this book is enjoyably informative. One thing it tells the modern reader is the world of the past was not settled and peaceful. There were murderers, rapists and robbers then. But there were also unusually modern situations which may never be found in any university history. The footnote on page 98 would enliven any book, although I don’t know what it has to do with pirates:

Young Sarah Walker (1700-1731) would eventually marry William Fairfax, for
whom Fairfax County, Virginia is named. Her daughter, Anne, was George
Washington’s mistress, a particularly awkward situation as she was married to
his brother, Lawrence Washington. Anne’s own brother, George Fairfax, apparently
had some African features; he suffered humiliation during a childhood visit to
England when his paternal relatives began speculating aloud as to whether his skin
would turn black at puberty.

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