These should all be swash-buckling good reads, even the books that aren’t pirate stories.
All affiliate links, although I don’t get anything if you just do what I do, and download the freebies. I do get a little something should you buy something else while you are at Amazon, say, some nice Celestial Seasonings Herb Tea, say, Bengal Spice, and some Dried Pears because a slice of dried pear in your Bengal spice tea is all you need to sweet it and make it marvelously perfect for fall tea drinking while you snuggle up with a good book.=)
Ben-Hur; a tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace
In 1880, a retired Union General by the name of Lew Wallace completed his first historical novel while serving as governor in the Territory of New Mexico. He wrote it in response to questions raised by a famous agnostic sharing a train ride from Chicago to Indianapolis. At the time, Wallace wasn’t as knowledgeable of the facts surrounding the life of Christ as he had thought. After doing extensive research, he was inspired to write what has become the definitive religious epic. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ helped Wallace sort out his own beliefs about God and Christ, and inspired others to do the same. Today, it stands as the most widely read novel of the 19th Century, and one of the most popular works of all time. It has never been out of print in its 130 year history, and has been made into several plays and four films.
Ben-Hur reflects the life and journey of Lew Wallace. At the Battle of Shiloah, through an accident, he and his men arrived too late to help, making the Union losses significantly higher than they would have been. As a result, Wallace was disgraced. Judah Ben-Hur, through the accident of a loose roof tile, loses his home and property, his family is sent to prison, and he is sent to the galleys. Through a miracle of courage and circumstances, Wallace worked his way back, became a successful statesman and author, and is today remembered in the Hall of Statues in Washington, DC. Through a similar miracle, Ben-Hur works his way back to save his family and get revenge over those who caused their calamity. Ben-Hur is a story of courage and revenge, but it is also a story of redemption and salvation. I believe Wallace saw his life the same. Ben-Hur crosses paths with Christ more than once, so that, in the end, his hate and destructiveness are swallowed up in Christ’s love and forgiveness. I believe Wallace saw the same miracle in his life.
Ben-Hur did not take off immediately; but, after several years of word-of-mouth, everyone was reading it, especially pastors and their congregations. In 1900, two producers, Klaw and Erlanger, bought the rights to bring Ben-Hur to the New York stage. It was an amazing production that boasted five teams of horses and chariots on stage at once for the great chariot race. They used treadmills for the teams, with moving scenery. There was also a great sea battle that was considered spectacular. The success of the play inspired showmen in the fledgling industry of motion pictures to take note.
The first film version of Ben-Hur was a 15-minute pirated version in 1907. This lead to a law suit by Wallace that set the precedent for future book-to-movie copyright cases. Eventually, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the rights, and produced the first legitimate adaptation in 1925, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Ramon Novarro. In 1959, William Wyler directed a second MGM production of the book, this time starring Charlton Heston. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director.
I found the novel by Lew Wallace to be more charming and less “big” than the 1959 film. Even the characters were more life-size. I pictured a Robert Taylor in the role of Ben-Hur rather than Charlton Heston. The only actor from the film that seemed to fit the novel was Finlay Currie as Balthasar, the wise man from Egypt. He was perfect. The entire first of eight books, into which Ben-Hur is divided, is occupied by the three wise men, of which only Balthasar is carried through to the rest of the book, and plays a significant role. In addition to playing Balthasar, Currie also narrates the film.
There is far more focus on Christ in the novel, the 1900 stage play (in which he is played by a beam of light) and the 1925 film than in the 1959 version. The book wrestles with the question of whether He will be an earthly King or a Savior of souls. Ben-Hur, who is a Sadducee, hopes he will be an earthly King, and actually trains three legions of Galileeans in preparation to help Him overthrow the occupying Romans. But Balthasar is convinced Christ will be a Savior of souls, and tries to convince Ben-Hur of the same. It is not until the miraculous events of the last of the eight books that he accepts that fact, and accepts Christ as his Savior.
To date, Ben-Hur is still the greatest Christian novel ever written, as well as one of the all-time great classics. Men still struggle with the question of whether Christ is an earthly King or a Savior of souls. To find out, we must all take similar journeys to Ben-Hur and Balthasar, and be hindered along the way by various Messalas. Not many of us will be like Balthasar and “get” it so quickly. Most of us will be more like Ben-Hur: accept what life throws at us with defiance, deal with it as best we can, struggle, realize we can’t do it on our own, accept God’s salvation, transcend our troubles through faith, and be transformed into someone new, someone Christ-like. Ben-Hur isn’t just about Lew Wallace’s journey from failure to freedom; like Pilgrim’s Progress, it reflects the common journey all Christians must take.
Mr. Midshipman Easy
by Fredrick Marryat
Reader Review: An entertaining sea story. Mr. Midshipman Jack Easy is a 17 year old young man who was born and raised in England to upper middle class family. His father believes that everyone is equal to an extreme degree, and Mr. Midshipman Easy has learned and believes this as well. His father gets him an appointment as a Mid on a ship of the English Navy. He wants to argue equality with everyone on the ship, from the captain on down, which makes for some interesting scenes. Jack Easy is popular with the crew, and holds up his end on the ship. He does well then he is thrust into places where his lack of experience could be a problem. The navy does an excellent job of making a spoiled young man into a competent young naval officer, and a credit to the community. Marryat writes a good sea story, but not really like Forrester or other later writers. He does capture the early 1800s and the Royal Navy of the time. Good read. I will have to keep working on the remainder of his books.
Also, The Pirate, by the same author.
Reader Review: I was out looking for the story behid the popular Pirates movies and found this free book that turned out to be a charmer. It is a well written story with just enough balance of historic facts, character development and action to keep the story moving at a quick pace that makes for en enjoyable and quick read.
Frank Stockton’s Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts
Reader Review: First published in 1898, at a time when pulp-fiction was hitting its stride with wild west stories, Stockton presents us with a series of semi-biographies of pirates from the 18th century and later. He focuses primarily on the buccaneers, but verges over into the Golden Age of Piracy for the last few pirates. The list of pirates chronicled include: Peter the Great (aka Pierre Le Grand), Bartholemy Portuguez, John Esquemeling, Roc Braziliano, Francois L’Olonnois, Henry Morgan, Raveneau de Lussan, Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach), Stede Bonnet, Richard Worley, Mary Read, Anne Bonny, Edward Low, Jean Lafitte and William Kidd.
There is a basis in fact, much of it taken from the writing of John Esquemeling. The author has also seen fit to flesh out the stories with fictional bits, meant to make for more entertaining reading (a la pulp fiction). And, it is entertaining reading. The stories have also been sanitized for younger readers, so parents do not need to worry about excessive violence and unsavory images. My version has only two pictures, the cover and the title page.
Overall, this is an excellent semi-introduction to pirates once young readers have passed the level of picture books like the Eyewitness series. I would put the age scale at about pre-teens to early teens.
Blurb: “This action-crammed, historically factual novel . . . is a rousing read, ably researched by Hoover”
Barbados and Jamaica 1648. The lush and deadly Caribbean paradise, domain of rebels and slaveholders, of bawds and buccaneers. Colonists fight a wishful war for freedom against England.
CARIBBEE is the untold story of the first American revolution, as English colonists pen a Declaration of Defiance (“liberty” or “death”) against Parliament and fight a full-scale war for freedom against an English fleet — with cannon, militia, many lives lost — over a century before 1776.
The powerful story line, based on actual events, also puts the reader in the midst of the first major English slave auction in the Americas, and the first slave revolt. We see how plantation slavery was introduced into the English colonies, setting a cruel model for North America a few decades later, and we experience what it was like to be a West African ripped from a rich culture and forced to slave in the fields of the New World. We also see the unleashed greed of the early Puritans, who burned unruly slaves alive, a far different truth from that presented in sanitized history books. Finally, we witness how slavery contributed to the failure of the first American revolution, as well as to the destruction of England’s hope for a vast New World empire.
We also are present at the birth of the buccaneers, one-time cattle hunters who banded together to revenge a bloody Spanish attack on their home, and soon became the most feared marauders in the New World. The story is mythic in scope, with the main participants being classic American archetypes — a retelling of the great American quest for freedom and honor. The major characters are based on real individuals, men and women who came West to the New World to seek fortune and personal dignity.
“This action-crammed, historically factual novel . . . is a rousing read about the bad old marauding days, ably reserarched by Hoover”
“Meticulous . . . compelling.”
“It should establish Thomas Hoover in the front rank of writers of historical fiction.”
—MALCOLM BOSSE author of THE WARLORD
Tags: Slavery, slaves, Caribbean, sugar, buccaneers, pirates, Barbados, Jamaica, Spanish Gold, Spanish Empire, Port Royal, Barbados
More blurb: From Library Journal
More than 100 years before the American Revolution a fight for freedom from England was waged in the West Indies. Hoover’s carefully researched historical novel, the tale of gentleman-turned-buccaneer Hugh Winston and independent Barbados colonist Kay Bedford, is an easy-to-read, exciting history of the Caribbean. Africans enslaved to work the sugar cane fields, drugged with the cane waste product “rum” to keep them subdued; Irish and English indentured servants, virtually slaves themselves; settlers struggling with the elements and European politics; and the misfit ruffians called “boucaniers” all are brought vividly to life in the story of the first American revolution. The second novel by the author of The Moghul . Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. A.M.B. Amantia, Population Crisis Committee Lib., Washington,
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Reader Review: Wow, did I love this amazing book! It truly was like a James Clavell or Leon Uris historical novel where a great deal of research has gone into the accurate historical background, and the fiction and fictional characters were created to fit into the history–rather than recreating history to fit the whims of the author’s fiction. I know, because this book had me bouncing all over the internet reading maps and histories to delve deeper into the stories. I should have been awarded three college credits for how much I learned before I was done and I now know more about the Puritan Reformation and Caribbean history than I will ever need to know again. It was a complex story that could have been written in two volumes, but wasn’t, and even though it was a double-sized story, I was still heart-broken to finish it knowing how hard it would be to move on to lesser books, but, hey, give me a few years, and I’ll be reading it again. I do have some criticisms–like wasn’t the hero just a bit too noble and patient for a dissolute smuggler–but they are outweighed by the sheer enjoyment of the adventure, indeed, battles and adventure galore. This is a book for lovers of historical fiction who love history, rather than lovers of “historical fiction” who love bodice-rippers. It may be more of a “man’s book” than chick lit, but that’s okay with me.
Masterpieces of Mystery In Four Volumes Detective Stories
Table of contents:
I. The Purloined Letter
Edgar Allan Poe
II. The Black Hand
Arthur B. Reeve
III. The Biter Bit
IV. Missing: Page Thirteen
Anna Katherine Green
V. A Scandal in Bohemia
A. Conan Doyle
VI. The Rope of Fear
Mary E. and Thomas W. Hanshew
VII. The Safety Match
VIII. Some Scotland Yard Stories
Sir Robert Anderson
Masterpieces of Mystery Riddle Stories
In 1920, Joseph Lewis French gathered together some tales that he called ‘riddle stories’. In the preface it identifies a riddle story as “the most naive form of the mystery story. It may contain a certain element of the supernatural – be tinged with mysticism – but its motive and the revelation thereof must be frankly materialistic – of the earth, earthy.” (IMO, his definition of a riddle story is a riddle.)
The short stories included in this anthology are:
The Mysterious Card by Cleveland Moffett – Couldn’t wait to see what the card actually said.
The Great Valdez Sapphire by Anonymous – Just okay, but has a good ending.
The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe – It’s Poe; of course it’s good. Is the movie on DVD?
The Birth Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Typical Hawthorne. Sad, sad, sad.
A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins – Very clever bad guys with very clever tools.
The Torture by Hope by Villiers de l’Isle Adam – Good thing we have the Geneva Convention now.
The Box with the Iron Clamps by Florence Marryat – Gruesome.
My Fascinating Friend by William Archer – Truly a fascinating story. Surprising ending.
The Lost Room by Fitz-James O’Brien – Odd. Not sure how to explain the happenings
The Monitor and the Merrimac Both sides of the story
The Battle of the Ironclads, though it lasted only the afternoon of March 9, 1862 in Hampton Roads Virginia, instantly outdated naval history around the world. This short book serves as a primary-source document by officer Lieut. Greene, on board the Union ship the Monitor, and by Confederate Chief-Engineer Ramsay aboard the Merrimac. The firsthand account takes the reader from the historic battle in the Chesapeake Bay to the destruction of the iron hulks. Ramsay describes blowing up the Merrimac, and there is an eye-witness account of the sinking of the Monitor off Cape Hatteras by Rear-Admiral E. W. Watson. The book takes the reader into the bowels of the Monitor, described by many as a looking like a “cheese box on a raft,” where the coal fires burned so much soot those on board could barely see, and looked like they stepped out of a black-faced minstrel show. Not only were the two ironclads themselves Civil War “firsts,” but they employed such other “firsts” as torpedoes, revolving gun turrets, and rifled gun barrels. This is essential reading for Civil War and Navy enthusiasts. And the “price” is right!
I first read this in one of my grandmother’s old schoolbooks, an 8th grade literature book with questions following each chapter. It has been an abiding favorite ever since.