Meet Blackbeard, who reveled in shooting down members of his own crew; Henry Morgan, the infamous pirate who eventually became Deputy-Governor of Jamaica; and Jean Lafitte, master of an enormously profitable piracy ring — even though he only boarded a ship twice in his life. Recount the horrors of the most infamous buccaneer of them all, Captain Kidd, whose evil exploits continue to raise goose bumps. You'll also become acquainted with a cast of lesser known — but equally intriguing — pirates, including two women whose courage and cunning were a match for any man's.
Often humorous, sometimes chilling, yet always fascinating, these authentic stories form a wonderfully readable history of piracy's beginnings and its rapid spread through the coastal waters of the New World.
Since the book was set about 50 years into the future from when it was written, it includes some speculations on the advancement of science and technology, as the author explains in his introduction.
A literary reviewer has said about this novel: "The conception was bizarre and grotesque enough, but the author developed it into a fascinating tale, incidentally injecting into it a good deal of drollery and fun.The tale shows that aspect of Stockton's genius that is inclined to the whimsical and chimerical, as well as the mechanical turn of his invention."
("The Fiction of Frank R. Stockton" by Edwin W. Bowen in The Sewanee Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, July 1920, pp. 452-462)
"Early in the spring of the year 1884, the three-masted schooner Castor, from San Francisco to Valparaiso, was struck by a tornado off the coast of Peru. The storm, which rose with frightful suddenness, was of short duration, but it left the Castor a helpless wreck. ...
"The Castor was an American merchant-vessel, commanded by Captain Philip Horn, an experienced navigator of about thirty-five years of age. Besides a valuable cargo, she carried three passengers—two ladies and a boy....
"But when the storm had passed, and the sky was clear, and the mad waves had subsided into a rolling swell, there seemed no reason to believe that any one on board the Castor would ever reach Valparaiso. The vessel had been badly strained by the wrenching of the masts, her sides had been battered by the floating wreckage, and she was taking in water rapidly. Fortunately, no one had been injured by the storm, ...."
All of the row boats had been blown off of the ship, but the crew was able to retrieve two of them from the sea; and "...in less than three hours after the vessel had been struck, the two boats, containing all the crew and the passengers, besides a goodly quantity of provisions and water, and such valuables, clothing, rugs, and wraps as room could be found for, were pulling away from the wreck."
The adventure thus begins, lost at sea somewhere off of the unsettled coast of Peru with only a vague idea of where they are.