Paperback: If a Pirate I Must Be, by Richard Sanders

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The Independent Culture

Born in Pembroke around 1682, Bartolomew Roberts was a man of "energy, drive andability", who became the "greatest of allpirates" in every respect but one. Soon after his death, his "throat ripped out by grapeshot" during an encounter with the Royal Navy off West Africa in 1722, he was pretty much forgotten, though Long John Silver gives him a name-check in Treasure Island. Disinterred in Sanders's lively yarn, Roberts emerges as a pirate too late for the age of piracy, like the ageing gunslingers in The Wild Bunch. Ironically, the defeat of Roberts and his like "created a world safe for slavery".