CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 16. . . .December 18, 2009
Despite the title, this illustrated history of pirates and piracy focuses on European piracy that emerged in the early 16th century in conjunction with the establishment of colonial empires in the Caribbean and the Americas, and it ends in the early 19th century when strong national naval forces together with a period of international peace put most of Europe’s privateers out of business. The excerpt above is taken from the chapter “The Brotherhood of the Coast” that focuses upon the buccaneers of the West Indies, with special attention paid to Sir Henry Morgan whose raid on the Spanish settlement of Panama in the 17th century was the largest expedition of its kind.
In the “Further reading” section, the reader learns that this volume is a picture sequel to Gilkerson’s Governor-General’s literary award winning novel, Pirate’s Passage. Based on the review of the novel published in CM, it is evident that many of the pirates and seafarers described in the novel appear again in this volume: Francis Drake, Granuaile (Grace O’Malley), the castaway Alexander Selkirk, “Blackbeard”, William Kidd and others. A Thousand Years of Pirates demonstrates Gilkerson’s storytelling skills with both word and paintbrush as more than half of the volume is devoted to his skilfully executed watercolour paintings depicting his subjects at rest, in battle, in daylight and even moonlight. A few historical illustrations are also reproduced, along with some line drawings presumably executed by Gilkerson. Many of the paintings were originally commissioned for an exhibit, Under the Black Flag, that travelled to three naval museums in the United States, and others previously appeared in Gilkerson’s illustrated history, The Ships of John Paul Jones. The artwork may make this book a crossover appealing to young readers interested in adventure tales and to mature readers interested in naval history and especially the great age of sail. The publisher’s press release markets this as “a gift book for everyone.” This explains the fine black cloth binding with silver lettering and the sparkling silver edges on all three edges of the pages—and the hefty retail price.
Recommended with reservations.
Val Ken Lem is the Collections Evaluation and Donations Librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.