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Apple/Quarto, Collins USA


Large Format Illus HB




Introduction and Annotated Edition of Exquemelin’s ‘THE BUCCANEERS OF AMERICA’ 192 pages hardback illustrated August 2008 – commissioned July 2007 for Quarto Publishing. Consultant editor and writer: ‘THE ILLUSTRATED PIRATE DIARIES: A REMARKABLE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF CAPTAIN MORGAN AND THE BUCCANEERS’, for Apple Press UK, New Holland (Australia) and Collins (USA) - Das Piraten-Tagebuch (trans. Karen Schuler & Henning Dedekind; Dzienniki Piratow etc.

It was first published in Dutch in 1678, with a 1679 German translation.

A Spanish translation of 1681 adds new material without acknowledgment, and mistranslates the Dutch frequently, while the English translation of 1684 appears to be a translation of the Spanish edition, including most of its deviations from the Dutch original. The French translation of 1686 is substantially a new work with many additions, including new pirate biographies and complete rearrangements in some sections. All versions were consulted and translated for this new and corrected translation. Hardback, large format.

Western Mail 27 December 2008

Welsh Pirate had an Eye for Libel – Swashbuckling Morgan sued over claims of brutality, says book’s editor. - Steffan Rhys

‘He is known as the pillaging Welsh buccaneer whose exploits gave rise to the swashbuckling Hollywood stereotype and led him to being dubbed ‘The Pirate King’. But in a twist on this traditional image, an author has claimed that one of Sir Henry Morgan’s most significant legacies was to launch the first ever successful libel case.

Terry Breverton, the Vale of Glamorgan-based translator and editor of new book, The Illustrated Pirate Diaries, has also described how the work Morgan sued over was the one that helped spawn today’s pirate stereotype. The book is a translation of the eyewitness account of Alexander Exquemelin, who sailed with the buccaneers under Captain Morgan. It is seen as a classic early example of a work embellished simply to sell more copies.

There are all those lies by Exquemelin to sell books, so in some ways, nothing changes’, he says. ‘Many facts in the book were sensationalised to sell English editions’, he explained. But Exquemelin’s account remains the main source on 17th century pirates and has inspired  hundreds of imitations – including Hollywood blockbuster trilogy Pirates of the Caribbean. His book was first written in French, then translated into Dutch and German, then into English by London publishers William Crook and Thomas Malthus in 1684, entitled Bucaniers of America.

Among the brutalities he attributes to Morgan are raids across the Caribbean, including Cuba, Panama and Venezuela. Exquemelin details Morgan’s fondness for using monks and nuns as ‘human shields’, inflicting ‘abominable torture’ on often innocent bystanders and ‘drunken debauchery.’ Of Morgan’s sacking of Gibraltar Exquemelin writes: ‘One of the worst examples was that of an old Portuguese man in his sixties. The Portuguese swore that the only money he had in the world was 100 pieces of eight and that a young man who lived near him had stolen it. He was not believed and strappadoed (hung by his wrists with his hands tied behind his back) so violently that his arms were pulled out of their sockets. Yet even this man had not suffered the full range of tortures practised at Gibraltar. Some male prisoners were crucified. Others were tied up, smeared with grease, and roasted to death.’

Henry Morgan was born in Llanrumney, Cardiff, the son of a well-to-do Welsh farmer. He sailed to Jamaica and joined pirate vessels, eventually raising enough money to captain his own ship. Along with fellow Welsh Pirate, Black Bart Roberts, in the 18th century, he was the most successful buccaneer of all time. He was recalled from the Caribbean by Charles II to face trial in 1672, but the favour in which he was held by the populace saw him instead knighted and returned by Charles to Jamaica as lieutenant-governor.

When Exquemelin’s book came to Morgan’s attention, he launched his libel action. ‘In the first successful libel trial in British history, the two English publishers were prosecuted,’ explained Mr. Breverton. ‘There followed a different English version in 1684, vindicating Morgan and absolving him of the cruelties in the first two editions.’ Morgan received £200 in damages and the publishers made the following apology: ‘There have been lately printed and published two works, both initialled The History of the Bucaniers, both which books contained many false, scandalous and malicious reflection on the life and actions of Sir Henry Morgan, of Jamaica’….

Good Reads (web) 2008

This profusely illustrated coffee-table style book does attempt to reproduce Alexander O. Exquemelin's experiences among 17th Century Caribbean pirates as a ship's surgeon. For those who do not know, Exquemelin's original book was written in Dutch, but was subsequently translated into French, Spanish and English. Each edition featured new material, usually slanted according to national politics of the day. This edition attempts to present what Exquemelin actually experienced. As an eyewitness to Henry Morgan's audacious raid on the city of Panama, Exquemelin's account has an authentic ring with a good many details that a ship surgeon would know about the pirates he tended… Though not an annotated text as such, the illustrations, cut lines and sidebars provide readers with a good deal of useful background information.

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