Mark P. Donnelly & Daniel Diehl,
Pirates of New Jersey
(Stackpole, 2010)

Who knew?

Think about the true pirate stories you know, and you'll likely think of the Spanish Main. The Ivory Coast of Africa. Madagascar and the Orient. The Caribbean, of course. And even the southern and northern tips of east-coast America.

I'll bet you weren't thinking of New Jersey, though.

Well, Mark P. Donnelly and Daniel Diehl will change your mind with Pirates of New Jersey, a slim but endlessly fascinating book about "plunder and high adventure on the Garden State coastline."

The book addresses both pirates and privateers. While the more famous pirates of the Golden Age didn't base their operations off the Jersey shore, you'll find ties -- and maybe even hidden treasures -- connecting New Jersey to the likes of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, William Kidd and "Black Bart" Roberts. Some of the more common stories focus on the privateers who fought along the coastline during the American Revolution -- some on the side of independence, others in support of the English crown. There were even a few hard-fought land battles that involved pirates and privateers.

Donnelly and Diehl have packaged it all in a very readable, highly detailed and entertaining book that brings the glory days of pirates home to a greatly misunderstood state. The level of research that went into compiling a great deal of historical minutiae is impressive, as is the flowing narrative style in which they present their tales.

I've read a lot of books about pirates over the years, and this is one of the most enjoyable I've read in some time.

book review by
Tom Knapp

8 January 2011

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