Book Review
The Pirate World
The Pirate World – A History Of The Most Notorious Sea Robbers
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

This is a review by Randy L Harvey of the Osprey Publishing book The Pirate World – A History Of The Most Notorious Sea Robbers by author Angus Konstam.


Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 80 books, 60 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed author has written widely on naval history, from Sovereigns of the Seas and Piracy: The Complete History to his most recent bestseller, Jutland 1916: Twelve Hours to Win the War. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator in the Royal Armouries, Tower of London and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.


    Piracy has been around ever since man first took to the sea. The word ‘pirate’ instantly conjures up the image of a fearsome figure in a battered coat and tricorne hat, brandishing a cutlass on the deck of his helpless victim’s ship. Similarly, the skull and crossbones which once adorned pirate flags has become an instantly recognizable symbol of piracy and rebellion. However, much of this image comes from Hollywood, and the realities of piracy are much more fascinating that the myths which now all but obscure the real thing.

    In this book, pirate expert Angus Konstam traces the history of piracy through the centuries, from the sea raiders who plagued the Ancient Egyptians to the modern pirates of Somalia and the Philippines. On the way he covers everything in between, from Viking raiders and Barbary corsairs to the pirates of the ‘Golden Age’, when the likes of Blackbeard roamed the seas.

    By separating the history of piracy from the Hollywood-inspired fiction, and by tracing its development through the centuries, The Pirate World gives a realistic vision of what the vicious, deadly business of piracy actually involved. Richly illustrated with colour images and specifically commissioned maps throughout, this book is a unique exploration of the pirate world. **

** Quoted from the inside of the books dust jacket.
    “In time of action, he wore a sling over his shoulders, with three brace of pistols, hanging from holsters like bandaliers, and stuck lighted matches under his hat which, appearing in each side of his face, his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a figure, that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury, from hell, to look more frightful”.

    Captain Johnson’s description of Blackbeard, from a General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724). **

** Quoted from the back of the books dust jacket.

Osprey Publications has released The Pirate World – A History Of The Most Notorious Sea Robbers is a 336 page hardcover book with a paper dust jacket. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color photographs, color maps, detailed captions, quotes and more. It has a 2019 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-3097-5. The book details the history of piracy through the centuries.

    - Introduction
    - Chapter One: Pirates of the Ancient World
    - Chapter Two: Medieval Pirates
    - Chapter Three: The Sea Dogs of the Renaissance
    - Chapter Four: Mediterranean Corsairs
    - Chapter Five: The Buccaneers
    - Chapter Six: The Golden Age of Piracy
    - Chapter Seven: The Pirate Round
    - Chapter Eight: The Last of the Pirates
    - Chapter Nine: The Chinese Pirates
    - Chapter Ten: Modern Piracy
    - Chapter Eleven: Pirates in Fiction
    - Conclusion
    - Notes
    - Select Bibliography
    - Index


Author Angus Konstam focuses on the history of piracy through the centuries in nicely written and well detailed text. Please refer to the Contents section of this review to learn all that is discussed in this volume. The contents section is very accurate in regards to the history that Angus Konstam has written. This is a well written book that will be of great use and interest to the well-seasoned and knowledgeable pirate historian and wants to learn more or the individual that is new to the world of piracy and is looking for a great reference book. Angus Konstam does an excellent job of detailing numerous pirates and their activities and exploits. He details all aspects of pirates throughout history such as the countries of origin of the various pirates mentioned and their crews, the types of ships used, the various type of weapons used, areas of operation, specific conflicts and their outcomes, specific cargos sought, etc. In addition to the history and technical information provided the author has also included personal quotes provided by individuals from the period. Personally, I appreciate the individual accounts as they provide excellent information on the book’s main subject matter and gives the reader a first-hand type of account of the specific era and the subject discussed. Other items of interest that help detail the pirate life are specific aspects to their lives such as pirate justice, the “Pirate Code” and other such aspects of their chosen profession. The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the history of piracy to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.

There are 106 black and white photographs and 139 color photographs in total. The photographs feature period engravings and paintings as well as modern photographs. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The photographs of the period engravings and paintings provide the reader with details of period maps, the various ships and small craft used by the pirates as well as details of various weapons, gear and period uniforms and clothing. They also provide a good reference for coloring which can be used as a painting guide for modelers if so chosen. Author Angus Konstam stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the pirate and nautical enthusiast and the scale figure and ship modeler due to the details they contain. Some of the period images are obviously not always in scale and 100% accurate as to specific actions but I personally feel that they still do their job of providing information as there was obviously no photography equipment of any type back in that time period. So obviously, artists were free to use artistic interpretation when they created their paintings and illustrations.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

Some of the pirates that are featured and discussed in great detail are:
    - Aruj ‘Barbarossa’
    - Henry Morgan
    - ‘Calico Jack’ Rackam
    - Bartholomew Roberts
    - Captain Kidd
    - Edward Teach ‘Blackbeard’
    - Benjamin Hornigold
    - Charles Vane
    - Sam Bellamy
    - Howell Davis
    - Klaus Stortebeker
    - John Hawkins
    - François l'Olonnais
    - Walter Kennedy
    - Thomas Tew
    - Henry Every
    - Jean Lafitte
    - Uluj Ali
    - Anne Bonny
    - Mary Read

There are 31 color maps included. Some of them are:
    - The Mediterranean and the Sea Peoples
    - Pompey and the Pirates
    - Klaus Stortebeker and the Victual Brothers
    - The Defences of the Spanish Main
    - Uluj Ali: The Sultan’s Pirates
    - Lesser Buccaneers of Port Royal
    - The Voyages of Henry Morgan
    - The Voyages of Benjamin Hornigold
    - The Routes of ‘Calico Jack’ Rackam
    - The Voyages of the Notorious Blackbeard
    - The Voyages of Bartholomew Roberts
    - The Voyage of Henry Every
    - The Voyage of Captain Kidd
    - The Routes of Jean Lafitte
    - The Raids of Koxinga
    - Pirates of Somalia and Bangladesh

The maps all come with keys that detail various points of interest such as routes, raids, battles, borders, bases, fortifications, and they also provide dates and pertinent information for each point noted on the maps.


The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to the figures shown, ship and boat types, clothing, dates and locations, artist’s names and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Angus Konstam’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

As with the other Osprey Publishing titles I was impressed with this book. This is a very nice reference book that contains a well written informative text, many subject specific photographs and illustrations, well detailed captions and more all detailing piracy throughout the ages. As with the other Osprey Publishing titles, I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal reference library.

Osprey Publishing also offers The Pirate World – A History Of The Most Notorious Sea Robbers as:

eBook (ePub)
eBook (PDF)


UK £25.00 / US $35.00 / CAN $47.00


The Pirates
The Seafarers
Douglas Botting and the Editors of Time-Life Books
Time-Life Books

A Pirate Hunter’s Companion
Dugald A. Steer
Candlewick Press

The Barbary Pirates 15th – 17th Centuries
Elite 213
Angus Konstam
Osprey Publications

True Caribbean Pirates
The History Channel

Modern Marvels
Pirate Tech
The History Channel

Pirate Island
The History Channel

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
Highs: Well written text and captions. Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: An excellent volume by Osprey Publishing. Definitely beneficial to the history of piracy enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-4728-3097-5
  PUBLISHED: Mar 08, 2019

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


Randy, thanks for the review! The book looks to be fascinating. It is refreshing to see the topic of piracy traced beyond the "Golden Age" of piracy on the Spanish main and into the present day. I'll definitely have to check this one out!
MAR 07, 2019 - 02:40 PM
Neat book indeed. Thanks for the detailed review. By marriage, I am related to a couple folks listed in here. Wife's genealogy confirms it. So I can say, "Arrrgh, me hardys," without being accused of misappropriating a culture.
MAR 07, 2019 - 03:54 PM
You're welcome Tim and Fred. Glad that you like the review. It is an excellent book and my review does not do it justice. It is a very well researched and detailed book. That is way cool Fred!! I didn't know that. Would love to hear more about it someday. Thanks, Randy
MAR 08, 2019 - 04:47 AM
My ancestor-in-law is Sir Edward Morgan, Lt. Gov. of Jamaica. Wife's genealogy research years prior to this book show direct ancestry, including dates/places of birth/death, children, etc. His daughter Mary Elizabeth married his nephew Sir Henry "the Buccaneer" Morgan, Knight.
MAR 17, 2019 - 12:50 PM
That is really cool Fred. Nothing like an interesting colorful family tree to make a guy happy and give him some righteous bragging rights. By the way............he didn't happen to leave a chest of Spanish gold around for you guys did he?? Thanks, Randy
APR 26, 2019 - 02:09 PM

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