November 20, 2017

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The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler | SLJ Review

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redstarSANDLER, Martin W. The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found. 176p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763680336.

NF-Sandler-TheWhydahGr 6 Up –Sandler dispels many popular pirate-related myths and offers a more realistic and factual view of the era of piracy in the New World. Instead of living in abject poverty at the mercy of kings and nobles, many men embraced piracy as a means to support their families and live a comfortable life, though one often filled with barbarous acts. The author weaves a fascinating story about piracy and the legendary 18th-century pirate ship Whydah, which sunk off the coast of Cape Cod on April 24, 1717, during a perfect storm. He delves into the fates of the few survivors, early salvage attempts by poor locals and wealthy governors alike, and the long-term work of explorer Barry Clifford to find the sunken ship. In 1985, Clifford and his crew discovered the inscribed galley bell of the Whydah, and for 30 years, divers, marine historians, and archaeologists have continued to retrieve artifacts from the ocean depths. Occasional sidebars on specific topics, such as the mythic origins of the Jolly Roger flag and artifact restoration, break up the narrative flow but do contain valuable information. Sandler’s approach to the Whydah and other submerged ships as “sunken time capsules” is an interesting angle that is sure to resonate with aspiring archaeologists. VERDICT A captivating read on pirates, with insights into contemporary underwater research techniques. Considering the popularity of the subject, this volume will likely not sit on shelves long.–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2017 issue.

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