So writes Merle Johnson, who has here gathered together in one volume all of the nineteenth-century author-artist's classic pirate stories that had been scattered through many magazines and books. Well researched and with richly drawn characters, Pyle's work will appeal to students of history and adventure lovers alike.
(P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
"I read aloud from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates." (Ernest Hemingway)
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"Fascinating and wonderfully read"
When you begin listening to this audio book, you may be a little disappointed. The first chapters are fairly dry historical accounts. Once past that first hour or so, though, you'll find yourself captivated by stories based in fact and admittedly embellished by the author. Simon Vance's reading is excellent and his voice fits the 19th century writing perfectly. In addition to the stories, you also gain an understanding of social strata in the 19th century (at least through the author's eyes). This book would not be considered politically correct today, but the history contained not just about pirates but about society is enlightening. A great listen.
"Painterly Pirates, Treasure, Adventure!"
This is an interesting and exciting audiobook filled with demonic buccaneers and na??ve youths and pretty governor (or merchant) daughters and plenty of action, from desperate hand-to-hand combats to horrific sea battles, not to mention dreamy treks through moonlit sand dunes to bury or unbury treasure chests.
The first chapter, a kind of survey-history of the buccaneer-pirate phenomenon, is a little bland and moralizing, but the following stories are great, especially those involving secret identities and double lives and changing fortunes and na??ve guys getting more than their share of adventure. Here's one of my favorite moments in the book, when a character is speculating on what drives can make a good man turn devil pirate: "Who, within his inner consciousness, does not feel that same ferine, savage man struggling against the stern, adamantine bonds of ???morality and decorum? Were those bonds burst asunder, as it was with this man, might not the wild beast rush forth, as it had rushed forth in him, to rend and to tear?"
And at his best, Pyle writes incredible painterly descriptions of pirate faces and clothes and ships in candlelight or moonlight or lightening light, descriptions that remain vividly in your mind like afterimages after the light fails. You can imagine the Disney artisans pouring over this book to gain inspiration and models for making the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction!
Simon Vance (aka Robert Whitfield) does his usual fine and flexible job of reading the text, though at times I wished for someone with a bit deeper voice.
"A little lame"
Kind of pales in comparison to what modern readers may be accustomed to in the way of emotion, grit, and complexity. Being a collection of short stories, I found it difficult to track characters, especially in audio format where one forgets what name you're currently supposed to be following and one can't easily glance back to pages for context. This book doesn't go deep enough into historical account to interest readers with a historical/academic background and doesn't go far enough into character development, plot, emotion, and motive to satisfy a pirate fan.
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