The Jolliest Rogers

9780544104952_hresLives of the Pirates: Swashbucklers, Scoundrels (Neighbors Beware!)
By Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, Paperback edition 2013, Boston, $8.99)

The most romanticized of outlaws, pirates have long attracted people of all ages. In Lives of the Pirates, Kathleen Krull and illustrator Kathryn Hewitt analyze their appeal – and debunk popular myths about their lives. The collective biography boasts lively profiles of nineteen infamous rogues, each accompanied by Hewitt’s humorous portrait of the swashbuckler in question. Although Lives of the Pirates has enough gory detail to satisfy the most bloodthirsty armchair adventurer, Krull also reveals surprising facts about her subjects. For example, readers will learn that plenty of pirates considered themselves patriots, that one was a diligent diarist and naturalist (William Dampier), and that Blackbeard, despite his terrifying visage, wasn’t that successful a plunderer. Along the way, they meet pirates from every corner of the globe, a few women who sailed the seas, and even a fictional character, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver, who is responsible for our contemporary understanding of pirates. With its delightful illustrations and playful prose, Lives of the Pirates should entertain middle-grade and adult readers alike.

-Dorothy A. Dahm


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