Last Reviews of 2018

Honest! I’m not doing anymore this year. I’ve been ill, there’s been a lot of reading time. I’ve been making progress through my Pen & Sword collection.

Pirates and Privateers in the 18th Century
Published By: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 7th November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781526731654
Price: £15.99
Link

Blurb


Pirates and Privateers tells the fascinating story of the buccaneers who were the scourge of merchants in the 18th Century. It examines their lifestyle, looking at how the sinking of the Spanish treasure fleet in a storm off the coast of Florida led to a pirate’s gold rush; how the King’s Pardon was a desperate gamble – which paid off – and considers the role of individual island governors, such as Woodes Rogers in the Bahamas, in bringing piracy under control.

The book also looks at how piracy has been a popular topic in print, plays, songs and now films, making thieves and murderers into swash-buckling heroes. It also considers the whole question of buried treasure – and gives a lively account of many of the pirates who dominated the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of Piracy.

My Review

A very good introduction to the subject, concentrating on the era known as the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy, and while the author notes that piracy is still with us and is the result of systemic inequalities, he doesn’t discuss modern piracy – that is outside the scope of the book. The chapters cover the general history of piracy, biographies of various pirates and colonial officials who sought to deal with them, and the ‘pirate’ sub-genre of crime literature and it’s later developments in novels and other popular culture such as plays and films.

The book was very easy to read, the author writes sympathetically but is realistic about the nature of piracy – not heroes but thieves, rapists and murderers – and explores the myths surrounding pirates and their treasures with a keen eye for poppycock. The book explores only a tiny fragment of the subject, but it is a good starting place for further research.

The Scandal of George III's Court
BPublished By: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 19th November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781473872516
Price: £15.99
Link

Blurb


From Windsor to Weymouth, the shadow of scandal was never too far from the walls of the House of Hanover. Did a fearsome duke really commit murder or a royal mistress sell commissions to the highest bidders, and what was the truth behind George III’s supposed secret marriage to a pretty Quaker?

With everything from illegitimate children to illegal marriages, dead valets and equerries sneaking about the palace by candlelight, these eyebrow-raising tales from the reign of George III prove that the highest of births is no guarantee of good behaviour. Prepare to meet some shocking ladies, some shameless gentlemen and some politicians who really should know better.

So tighten your stays, hoist up your breeches and prepare for a gallop through some of the most shocking royal scandals from the court of George III’s court. You’ll never look at a king in the same way again…

My Review

What a family! I’d be so embarrassed if I was directly related to them. An overbearing matriarch and patriarch, daughters confined to the palace, sons and brothers making ‘unsuitable’ marriages, girlfriends and illegitimate children here there and everywhere, the odd murder. Sounds like most families. Except this one had money and power to back up their behaviour and silence people. And they were the centre of press focus for decades. And what fun the press had with them…

I sat and read this book yesterday after I’d finished reading about pirates. Sometimes a bit of gossip is fun, especially when those concerned have been dead for two centuries. It was fun, amusing. Curzon’s jaunty writing style lends itself to the subject and it’s obvious that the eighteenth century is her passion. She writes sympathetically and makes evenhanded judgements on the truth or otherwise of the rumours and scandal. She uses contemporary sources, later literature and current scholarship to provide a rounded picture of events and the people involved.

This book is a an accessible, fun, introduction to the period and people of George III’s court.

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