The Book: STEDE BONNET: "Gentleman Pirate" of the Carolina Coast. Text by John G. Leland, illustrated by Emmett Robinson. Charleston Reproductions softcover, second printing, 1976. Very good condition, some age-related browning.
First read: 1989
Owned since: 1989
Arr! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so what could be a better choice than this biography of a pirate? Avast, ye scurvy knaves!
Okay, that's enough of that. Today is also the 50th birthday of internationally-famous and beloved author Christopher Moore, so stop by his website or his MySpace page to wish him many happy returns.
Anyway, back to this book. I bought it on a visit to Charleston, possibly as a gift for a child, but it's not written for children; it's a short account of Bonnet's life that seems to have been written for the tourist trade.
Stede Bonnet was a retired British Army officer who turned to piracy, according to legend, in order to meet the financial demands of his nagging wife. He was hanged for it in Charleston, and my sister Kathy and I heard his story there as small children.
Bonnet had been a Barbadian planter, and was a disaster as a pirate. He tried to ally himself with Blackbeard, but wound up essentially Teach's hostage, and his crew all defected to Blackbeard's authority. Back on his own, Bonnet had a few successes, but taunted the Charleston authorities and drew down the full wrath of the royal governor and Colonel William Rhett, who captured Bonnet's ship and brought him to trial. Bonnet managed to escape before trial, but Rhett recaptured him, and Bonnet was hanged for piracy and murder at White Point (now the Charleston Battery) on December 10, 1718.
I'd like to read a full-length biography of Bonnet, one that places him in context and makes some effort to explain his apparently irrational decisions. He is a funny character in the Wann/Simpson musical Hot Grog -- which I recommend, if you ever get a chance to see it.
Five Random Songs
"Heinrich Maneuver," Interpol. One of my most recent acquisitions (the CD is called Our Love to Admire), and I've been listening to it a lot. This track's gotten some play on indie stations.
"Belle," Al Green. Al Green's voice makes everything better.
"Dancing Shoes," Arctic Monkeys. People foamed at the mouth over this record (Whatever People Say I Am...); I like it, but it didn't blow me away.
"From Rags to Riches," The Blue Nile. A six-minute song that ends with more than a minute of nothing but electronic ripples and sound effects. It's brave and Brian Eno-esque.
"Runaway," Pink. I love Pink, and I love this record (I'm Not Dead), but this is not its strongest track -- it's a little too on-the-nose for me. Then again, I suspect I'm not Pink's target audience.