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Blackbeard: The Pirate King    by J. Patrick Lewis order for
by J. Patrick Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
National Geographic, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

You wouldn't want to meet the pirate depicted on Blackbeard's cover in a dark alley, or on the high seas - or anywhere else for that matter! J. Patrick Lewis tells the story of infamous 18th century Pirate King Edward Teach as a series of annotated biographical poems, accompanied by reproductions of remarkable paintings, by a variety of artists, of pirates in action.

Lewis invites readers 'To a tale as keen as cutlass / That no man dares impeach. / A tale to billow a pirate's sail / Is the tale of Captain Teach.' We learn that Teach flourished in a Golden Age of Piracy from 1698-1730. His face was 'So frightful that it chilled his foes / Straight to the marrowbone.' After many wily adventures, he accepted a King's pardon and settled in North Carolina, before returning to his former trade and finally being killed - and beheaded - in 1718. The final poem tells of his ghost.

At the back of the book is a timeline of Blackbeard's life. An Author's Note about this era 'when villainy ruled the waves' explains the sources available on the buccaneer's life and times, and provides a map of his voyages. Blackbeard: The Pirate King belongs in any young pirate's treasure chest.

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