Captain Kidd (ePub)
The Hunt for the Truth
The execution of Captain William Kidd on 23 May 1701 is one of the most controversial and revealing episodes in the long history of piracy. The legend that has grown up around Kidd's final voyage, his concealed treasure and the dubious conduct of his trial, has made him into one of the most intriguing and misunderstood figures from the golden age of piracy. For either Kidd was a legal privateer or he was a wicked pirate – indeed he has been described as one of the most feared pirates to sail the high seas. But his story is complex and ambiguous. This timely new account of Kidd's life and seafaring career reassesses the man and his legend – it makes compelling reading.
Craig Cabell is the author of fifteen books. He has also worked extensively as a journalist, reporter and columnist, contributing most notably to The Independent. He is a former in-house reporter with MOD Focus and has worked as a short story writer and historical advisor for radio and TV documentaries. Graham A. Thomas is the writer of six previous books including the acclaimed Operation Big Ben – The Anti-V2 Spitfire Missions 1944-45 with Craig Cabell. Graham is also a former reporter with MOD Focus and has worked extensively in radio. Allan Richards wrote VE Day – A Day to Remember and enjoyed extensive media coverage during the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. He has travelled the world and written about his experiences for travel magazines, amongst others.
When I first noticed that the book had been compiled by three authors I wondered if the book would work. It did! Everything has gelled together to give a comprehensive account of Kidd’s life at sea and the political skulduggery in Parliament that was ultimately to be his downfall. A very good book, easy to read, and personally I think the authors have left the reader to make up their own mind as to whether he was a pirate or not. My opinion, well that’s up to me to decide and for others to read the book.The Nautical Magazine - March 2011
Great story, historically factual and recommended.
Through thirteen chapters and six appendices, the authors attempt to separate myth from reality to uncover the truth about William Kidd - who started out a pirate hunter^ but ended up executed for piracy. The authors' goal is not to tell the reader which he was, but rather to present all the facts to allow the reader to make up his or her own mind. The story unfolds at the beginning, recapping what little is known about Kidd prior to his appearance in the Caribbean in 1689.Private and Privateers Website, November 2010
The book includes a map of Kidd's voyages that depict his outward journey and his return, as well as the failed interception by the Royal Navy. There are several pages of black-and-white pictures, although the inclusion of two photographs of modern crafts is a questionable choice. There's a list of books for further reading, chapter notes, and an index.
One point the authors stress in the preface is that "there is no single person who is able to confirm Kidd's account from beginning to end." This statement (as well as other points) makes it difficult to know whether the truths put forth are actually that, for there remains no irrefutable evidence one way or the way to answer the question beyond a shadow of doubt. The introduction contains one misstatement: The first person to brand Kidd as a pirate was Captain Charles Johnson who wrote a biography of Kidd in his book, A General History Of The Most Notorious Pirates, which was first published in 1724.
In actuality the English East India Company, as well as the Admiralty Courts that tried him, branded Kidd as such long before Johnson's book was published. The authors' unbiased account incorporates primary documents and secondary resources. The overwhelming question of why remains elusive. Why did a respected, wealthy family man leave his loved ones and become entangled in the adventure that eventually cost him his life? Possibilities are presented, but as with the primary focus of the book - was he or wasn't he a pirate - no definitive answer is available.
For me, the more interesting portion of the book is the "Annexes" (appendices): Crew members who served with Kidd, Legend, Timeline of Kidd's maritime career, Articles of agreement, Letters concerning Kidd, Pirates and privateers: Kidd compared. Captain Kidd is logically presented and easy to follow. Readers will fid the narrative interesting, and the authors point out some of the problems with recent and not-so-recent published books. If you are in need of a good, straight-forward account of Kidd's life, career, and demise, Captain Kidd is a worthwhile resource to consult.