Monday, November 16, 2009

Jewish Pirates?

Remember the jokes about the world's shortest book? When I saw Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean on the Jewish Book Festival table, I thought it was impossible to have a whole book on the subject. And in fact, the author Edward Kritzler would have had a very short book indeed if he hadn't padded his narrative with Jewish pirates from other places (like North Africa), non-Jewish pirates (like Henry Morgan) and Jews from all over the Sephardic world.

Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean is a frustrating mish-mash of historical information. True, its reason for jumping around is that the few actual Jewish pirates had a jumpy background. The real ones, who went after Spanish treasure ships and did other privateering jobs, were connected to Jews in Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, New Amsterdam (that first Jewish colony), England, and many Caribbean islands. If you didn't know a thing about that era, you might find it interesting -- or frustratingly hard to follow. I found it mainly annoying. There just weren't enough real pirates. AAAR.

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