Reviews of The Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks

The Pirate Hunter

The True Story of Captain Kidd

by Richard Zacks

The Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks X
The Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2002, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2003, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

This masterpiece of historical detective work tells the story of the real Captain Kidd - a pirate hunter, not a pirate. A real page turner and an authentic pirate story for grownups.

Captain Kidd has gone down in history as America's most ruthless buccaneer, fabulously rich, burying dozens of treasure chests up and down the eastern seaboard. Over the centuries, novelists, relentless treasure hunters, and even historians have stoked his pirate legend. Robert Louis Stevenson, for one, placed "Kidd's Anchorage" on Treasure Island. But it turns out that most everyone, even many respected scholars, have the story all wrong. Captain William Kidd was no career cut-throat; he was a tough, successful New York sea captain who was hired to chase pirates. In 1696, he set out on a near-impossible mission to travel in a lone ship with a mutinous crew, heading 4,000 miles round the tip of Africa to track down a handful of die-before-surrender pirates and then bring back their treasure to the governor of New York and other secret backers.

His three-year odyssey aboard the aptly named Adventure galley pitted him against arrogant Royal Navy commanders, jealous East India Company captains, storms, starvation, angry natives, and, above all, flesh-and-blood pirates.

Through it all, Captain Kidd found himself facing a long-forgotten rogue by the name of Robert Culliford, who lured Kidd's crew to mutiny not once, but twice.

Through painstaking research, author Richard Zacks has pieced together the never-before-told story of Kidd versus Culliford, of pirate hunter versus pirate. Culliford climbed from Caribbean cabin boy to pirate captain, once capturing a ship in the Indian Ocean loaded with gold and several dozen wives and daughters of the local Moslem nobility. He divvied up both the gold and the women. This was an era of tall-masted sailing ships and lords in full wigs; the drama on land played out in the smuggler's haven of New York City and in Cotton Mather -- dominated Boston and in edge-of-empire London.

Across the oceans of the world, the pirate hunter, Kidd, pursued the pirate, Culliford. One man would hang in the harbor; the other would walk away with the treasure. The Pirate Hunter is both a masterpiece of historical detective work and page-turner, and it delivers something rare: an authentic pirate story for grownups.

Excerpt
The Pirate Hunter

In a cold jail cell in Boston in Massachusetts Bay Colony on November 16, 1699, a weather-beaten man with hard scarred features unbuttoned his trousers. Two men stood nearby; one wore a skullcap. The prisoner, tanned on his face and arms only, lifted his shirttail, exposing himself. Back then, men didn't wear underwear per se but rather tucked long shirts afore and behind, hammocking their genitals.

When James Gilliam lifted his penis to view, the two observers caught a whiff of the man's recent recreation. The night before, as the governor later quaintly put it in a letter to the Board of Trade, Gilliam had been "treating two young women some few miles off in the country." Colonial authorities accused him of being a member of the crew of Captain Kidd, then the most notorious pirate in the nascent British Empire, and of hiding his treasure on Gardiners Island alongside Kidd's ample horde. Two witnesses, in addition, identified Gilliam as the pirate who ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Time
Enthralling . . . Captain Kidd practically swaggers off the pages of this rich, riotous bio.

Providence Journal
Crammed with splendid details and historical ironies.

The New Yorker
Zack's detective work here is thoroughly convincing.

Booklist
A lively, educational, thoroughly spellbinding trip back in time.

Kirkus Reviews
Exciting, well told, and befitting the wild life of a pirate.

Publishers Weekly
Entertaining, richly detailed and authoritatively narrated, Zacks's account of the life of legendary seaman William Kidd delivers a first-rate story.

Author Blurb Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
. . . Read it for the history or read it for the adventure -- you won't be able to stop.

Author Blurb Catherine Clinton, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Yale University
. . . a wild ride, filled with enticing and documented detail . . . a riveting and offbeat historical adventure.

Author Blurb Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family, National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction
Zacks artfully leads the reader through . . . 17th-century villainy, switching all the while between gravitas and wit.

Author Blurb Geraldine Brooks, author of Year of Wonders
In The Pirate Hunter, truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's a lot more fun to read.

Author Blurb Geraldine Brooks, author of Year of Wonders
For Richard Zacks, history is . . . a raucous, pungent romp through greed, corruption and excess. In The Pirate Hunter, truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's a lot more fun to read.

Author Blurb Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
Here at long last is the Kidd story rendered for adults.

Author Blurb James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets
. . . a richly detailed nautical thriller . . . combines exciting escapism with thought-provoking history.

Author Blurb Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo
. . . a varnished 17th century world . . . Brimming with authority, eccentricity and grisly detail, it is everything a pirate book should be.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Richard Zacks

If you liked The Pirate Hunter, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...
  • Book Jacket: Moth
    Moth
    by Melody Razak
    On August 15, 1947, India gained independence from the United Kingdom, and on that same day the ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.