Minus the eyeliner of Johnny Depp’s Capt. Jack Sparrow, pirates were certainly colorful characters and the scourge of the sea. From the 17th through the 19th centuries, governments actually sanctioned piracy against their enemies. Conflicts over trade and colonization pitted the rival European powers of the time against each other, including England, Spain, Dutch United Provinces and France. Of course, once a rogue, always a rogue when personal gain was involved. In reality, these privateers often turned against those who hired them and attacked their government’s or monarch’s ships.
One of the most important books about pirates was “The Buccaneers of America,” written by Alexandre Exquemelin in 1678. He served as surgeon for nearly 10 years with various buccaneers and gives an eyewitness account of the daring deeds of French, Dutch and English pirates raiding Spanish ships and colonies in the Caribbean.
This item is one of many digitized materials from the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection housed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The Library has employed page-by page technology to allow Web site visitors to get an up-close and personal look at this priceless volume.