Thursday, October 4, 2012

Books: A Handbook for Freebooting

While misfortune comes to us all, I am proud to say that I am fortunate in my friends. I married my best friend and have friends from high school that I still communicate with. Given how much my family moved around, that's an achievement.

The Interwebs has given me a whole new scope of friendship. I now have dear friends in all corners of the world, from Scott in far away Sydney, Australia to the good Captain and the QM in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, I know that wherever I may roam (intentional Metallica reference!) I will always have someone I care about to share a mug of grog (or a glass of champagne) and catch up with.

That good fortune includes the generous folks at The Pirate Museum in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A. When I was laid up after surgery, they sent me a care package that included a signed copy of Pat Croce's The Pirate Handbook. Needless to say I was overwhelmed, touched, and eager to start reading.

I'll just say that I cannot recommend this book enough. Mr. Croce hits all the high points, as would be expected, but he adds so much more information about pirates and a life on the account that it is hard to believe the book is a slim 175 pages. The entries are brief - no long chapters to bog down the fast pace at which you will doubtless be reading. Joining a pirate crew, provisioning and living aboard a ship, what to expect in the way of food and drink while at sea and life by land, just to name a few, are discussed.

Croce also gives tips and insights not generally found in this type of "how to" pirate book. I've never seen an explanation of "How to defend against a dagger" in any of the many, many books I have read. I'm fairly certain you won't either. Croce's narrative style is tight but conversational. There's nothing to get in the way of the enjoyment of learning. This book should be required high school reading, frankly.

I'm probably gushing but honestly, the book is that good. With the holidays in the offing, I highly recommend this wonderful guide as a gift to anyone you know who is interested in the history of piracy. You can order it from the museum; or at Amazon where it is also available for Kindle.

My thanks again to the wonderful folks at The Pirate Museum (follow them here on Twitter). You all made a hard time a little easier, and for that I'll always know you as mates no matter where we meet.


Undine said...

They've obviously got a very cool bunch of pirates down in Florida.

Sounds like a great book, too, if you endorse it so highly. For those of us who love giving books as holiday or birthday gifts, it sounds ideal for anyone who's interested in history of any sort.

Pauline said...

Florida is full of pirate history, and ghosts from what I hear :)

This book really appealed to me. Not only because of the accuracy of the history and the writing style but because I stuck with it. I read it straight through, which is not like me at all. When it comes to books of any kind, I'm easily distracted by the "shiny object" of some new information or story or whatever. Croce's book kept me engaged and that's saying a lot.

Timmy! said...

"Only knowledge will I save...
By myself, but not alone..."

Pat Croce is a pretty amazing guy, Pauline. He is an entrepreneur, sports team executive and owner, author, and TV personality.... And he is from Philly!

From Wikpedia:

"Croce began his career as a physical therapist and was an athletic trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers for more than 10 years, originally hired to help thin 7'6" center Shawn Bradley bulk up. He founded Sports Physical Therapists in 1984 and grew the business into a chain of 40 centers spanning 11 states before selling it in 1993 for $40 million.

He became president of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team in 1996 as part of a group led by Flyers founder Ed Snider and Comcast Corporation that bought the team. Under their ownership, the Sixers went from last place in 1996 to the NBA Finals in 2001. He appeared on the cover of Success magazine as the first trainer to rise to an ownership position with a professional sports team...

Croce is also the author of several books on pirates, including Pirate Soul (2006) and My Pop Pop Is A Pirate (2008). More recently, Croce has written and released an illustrated book, Blackbeard, and The Pirate Handbook (both released in 2011). He is currently working on a series of historic fiction books based on the lives of pirates such as Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan."

He actually owns the Pirate Museum in St. Augustine. More from Wikipedia:

"In January 2005, he opened the $10 million Pirate Soul Museum in Key West, Florida. The museum features authentic pirate artifacts, many from Croce's personal collection. In February 2006, he opened the pirate-themed Rum Barrel restaurant next to the museum. It was announced in February 2010 that the museum is being moved to St Augustine, Florida. The museum opened on December 8, 2010...

Croce is currently focused on the success of the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. The museum is said to house the largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world--more than 800--and has been featured prominently in regional news."

In October 2011, Croce financed and served on the monumental expedition that located the shipwrecks of Sir Francis Drake.

Pauline said...

Yeah; what you said. Also The Pirate Museum now has a piece of Drake's ship in their Rogues' Tavern.

All around, pretty cool.