Adrian Tinniswood

Pirates of Barbary

Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean

Adrian Tinniswood’s dramatic narrative, “Pirates of Barbary,” reminds us that the corsairs had preyed on Europeans long before the United States arrived on the scene... it's bloody good entertainment.
Ian W.Toll, New York Times
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Tinniswood’s artful blend of narrative and analysis brings the pirates’ society to life. He does equal service to the victims and captives and to the ‘stench of brimstone and sweat and fear’ as passengers awaited attack. Beneath the vivid surface of his book there lie, sometimes obscured by the vividness, the careful investigation and astute judgement of one of the most incisive of our popular historians.
Blair Worden, Spectator
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A new book from author Adrian Tinniswood is always something to look forward to. One of our foremost historians and biographers, here he takes us into the world of the Barbary pirates who terrorised the seas of Europe throughout the 17th century. The author paints a picture of ordinary men who rejected the relative stability of their homeland in favour of the pursuit of wealth and infamy on the high seas. Not to be missed.
John Stachiewicz, National Trust Magazine

Pirates of Barbary skilfully evokes the dread that corsairs aroused. The Barbary Coast ports that sponsored them were outposts of the Ottoman empire. Corsairs were the “sea front” in the centuries-long stand-off between the worlds of Christianity and Islam. An Algerian writer in the 1620s called piracy the “sea jihad”, holy war at sea. At the same time, Islam was being demonised as “the present terror of the world” by European writers...

But corsairs weren’t always Turkish or Arab. Many were European pirates who based themselves in north Africa for security. Their alliance with Barbary cities such as Algiers was, as Tinniswood wryly puts it, “an early and efficient example of public-private partnership”.
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times
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Book of the Week - A thrilling account of the pirates who turned the Mediterranean into a Christian-Muslim war zone...Adrian Tinniswood weaves a mosaic account of piracy and slavery, cross-cultural contact and redemption along the shores of North Africa.
Roger Crowley, Sunday Telegraph
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Book of the Week - Adrian Tinniswood's absorbing book is packed with bad characters, big fights and breathless chases in tumultuous and often horrifying detail. The nerves wince, but the excitement never flags. It is chock-a-block with the sort of fascinating stories of individuals that are left out of the history books.
Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
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Book of the Day - An absorbingly dramatic history book with an implicit instructive message to the leaders of countries whose ships are being hijacked on the seas off Somalia... his excellent book [is] as relevant as reports of the latest Somali demands for ransom.
Patrick Skene Catling, Irish Times

He is quite excellent on the main characters, but he does not allow the endless derring-do to go to his head. It would have been easy to have turned these desperadoes into likeable Jack Sparrows, but Tinniswood is also alive to the realities of the historical background. The violence was real and unabashed both for the victims and the perpetrators... This swashbuckling yarn will hold its readers enthralled as they wend their way through a long-forgotten world in which terrorism and kidnapping were the norm.
Trevor Royle, The Herald
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A contemporary and gripping account of buccaneers... This rollicking book unpicks a confusion of names, dates and places to produce a fascinating history of seaborne conflict.
Christopher Hudson, Daily Telegraph
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It is hard to imagine Captain Blood or Jack Sparrow as a north African Muslim, Adrian Tinniswood suggests. For swashbuckling glamour, the West now looks to the Caribbean buccaneers. Meanwhile, the corsairs of the Barbary coast — the swath of the Mediterranean that stretches from Libya to Morocco’s Atlantic shore — are little known. This exciting book proves that such obscurity is both surprising and undeserved... a vastly enjoyable book.
James McConnachie, Sunday Times

Tinniswood tells an exciting story and one which, remote and exotic as it seems, is full of intriguing parallels with our own age.
The Scotsman

Adrian Tinniswood is a masterly writer of history with a gift for slamming his readers into the thick of the action, as he demonstrated in his fine book of the Great Fire of London, By Permission of Heaven. Now he has tackled a subject thick with smoke and bright with daggers: the Barbary pirates. It is satisfactory to report that Tinniswood's pirates - living hugger-mugger in the dens of Algiers and Tunis, Muslim corsairs sharing the streets with renegade Englishmen and Dutch outlaws - were as terrifying and successful as their engrossing reputation suggests... Anyone eager for the taste of salty adventure will enjoy Tinniswood's book, which is admirably well organised and shows a detailed grasp of the careers of the pirates and their enemies.
Jason Goodwin, The Literary Review

Forget about Johnny Depp in earrings: real-life pirates were a darn sight less picturesque. In this fascinating book, Adrian Tinniswood charts the brutal history of piracy from its beginnings in the 16th century to its high point 100 years later as a kind of maritime big business with added cruelty.
Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

The figure of the renegade - the Christian who converted to Islam - both fascinated and appalled; it challenged English ideas of identity and faith, but Tinniswood paints a sympathetic picture of these exotic hybrids. Buy it.
Canadian National Post

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