August 9, 2010

Pirate Latitudes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:53 pm

I just finished reading Pirate Latitudes, by the late Michael Crichton. When I saw the book on the hardcover discount table, I hesitated, having never before read a book about pirates. I took the $2.00 (that was the price!) plunge, because Michael Crichton may well be my favorite author. I believe I have read everything (or almost everything) he had ever written. Hell, I would happily read a shopping list if Michael Crichton wrote it.

I was quite taken by the story, which was set in 1665 and dealt with the adventures of Charles Hunter, the Harvard-educated Englishman pirate privateer, who assembles a crew of ill-mannered, cutthroats and rogues in order to attack a seemingly impregnable Spanish Fortress under the command of a Spanish villain named Cazalla, (who is a supremely rotten, sadistic, loathsome, ruthless turd). The ultimate goal of Hunter’s cunning plan is the seizure of a treasure-laden Spanish galleon moored near the fortress. When Hunter is not relieving women of their knickers, he is shooting people in the face with his flintlock pistol (including a disobedient crew member), and he’s the good guy.

It is a great adventure story, but as one would expect from Michael Crichton, it is chock full of interesting historical tidbits and a good deal of information concerning the amazing navigation and sailing skills of pirates privateers in the seventeenth century. It has sparked my interest in the subject, and I shall delve into Joan’s archives for additional reading material, for she is way ahead of most folks in the Pirate Department.

Reportedly the book was discovered as a “final” manuscript on Michael Crichton’s computer after his death in 2008. I have a feeling that, had he not died, he would have tweaked the book a bit to add a bit more meat so some elements of the story that seemed to pop up and quickly disappear, without additional development.

It’s a fun read, and it served to remind me that Michael Crichton died way too young.


  1. I’m gonna do it…Thanks

    Comment by Yabu — August 10, 2010 @ 8:14 am

  2. I’m sure you’re aware that US privateers were responsible for the vast majority of the damage to British shipping during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. If not, see the US Merchant Marine web page on the subject:

    For example, the privateers captured 2283 ships, the Continental Navy 196. Eleven thousand died in British prisons.

    Comment by Carl Brannen — August 10, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  3. If you enjoy that then I highly recommend reading the Jack Aubrey–Maturin series.

    A little research into the sailing of a tall ship along with a good map and I was quickly locked into reading the entire series.

    But next, I’ll be picking up this book!



    BTW – enjoy the blog, and if you ever end up running past the ol Burgh, The Steel City, Where Alligators Don’t Live(TM) stop by for a slug or two of scotch.

    Comment by NewBusinessHawk — August 10, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  4. Pirates! and Michael Crichton!


    Comment by Joan of Argghh! — August 11, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  5. I might pay two bucks for that book. But not a dime more. I am always skeptical of unfinished book manuscripts left behind by a deceased author… there was a reason the damn thing hadn’t been published. Yet.

    Comment by Elisson — August 12, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  6. I am also a huge Michael Crichton fan. I got the book as soon as I saw it, back before Christmas. I recall reading (but am too bored/drunk to find a cite) that he actually wrote this soon after Timeline, or, more precisely, soon after he created a software company to make a video game based on Timeline. There was to be a video game made of this book as well, and with that in mind it certainly reads like a video game. The story is pretty linear; all subplots are in the exact same time and place as the main story elements. One can even tell how he anticipated the story being broken up into different “missions” or whatnot as the player advances through the game.

    Because it seems a little more linear and simple than some other of his books it isn’t on my shortlist of favorites. I did appreciate how he did research and incorporate all of the historical details, and I have read it multiple times (and likely will again).

    Comment by Auskunft — August 12, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

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