Monday, September 17, 2018

Eric Jay Dolin's "Black Flags, Blue Waters"

Eric Jay Dolin is the best-selling author of Leviathan and Brilliant Beacons. His new book is Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates. Dolin and his family live in Marblehead, Massachusetts, from which the pirate John Quelch departed in 1703, and returned to in 1704, only to be hanged in Boston.

Dolin applied the “Page 99 Test” to Black Flags, Blue Waters and reported the following:
Black Flags, Blue Waters is about the so-called Golden Age of Piracy, which started in the late 1600s, and ended in the mid 1720s. This was the most dramatic era of maritime marauding the world has ever known, when pirates wreaked havoc across the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Much has been written about that time period, and this book adds to that literary lineage, but with a twist. Rather than focusing broadly on this era, Black Flags, Blue Waters zeros in on the history of the pirates who either operated out of America’s English colonies or plundered ships along the American coast.

The following excerpt from page 99, introduces us to the infamous Captain Kidd.
The battle against piracy was furthered by the English government’s reaction to the ill-fated voyage of Captain William Kidd, arguably the world’s most famous pirate, who really wasn’t much of a pirate at all. Kidd’s story is full of many twists and turns and a cast of hundreds, if not thousands. Entire books have been written about his exploits, and no doubt there are others to come. But, for the purposes of our tale, only the outline of his story is necessary, just enough to understand how his actions in the Indian Ocean affected the course of piracy in America.

Born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1654, the son of a mariner, Kidd was a powerfully built and voluble man with a quick temper, and a streak of arrogance that was often on display. He served as a buccaneer and then privateer in the Caribbean before arriving in New York City in 1691, where his help in putting down a political rebellion made him a favorite of the incoming governor. His entrĂ©e into the upper reaches of local society was further cemented by his marriage to Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, a recent widow who brought with her a considerable estate. With his strong ties to the sea, Kidd, however, soon grew tired of his patrician life and, at the age of forty-one in 1695, desirous of adventure and a highly reputable position, he set sail for London to obtain an officer’s commission in the Royal Navy.
As for Ford Madox Ford’s pronouncement, I think it holds fairly well for this book. After all, you have a bit of mystery, a bit of debunking of mythology, and a taste of the beginning of a really good story – and this book is, more than anything, a narrative compilation of great and surprising stories.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin.

--Marshal Zeringue