The sack of Panamá Captain Morgan and the battle for the Caribbean

Peter Earle, 1937-

Book - 2007

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 972.8702/Earle Checked In
New York : Thomas Dunne Books 2007, c1981.
1st U.S. ed
Item Description
Originally published: Great Britain : Jill Norman & Hobhouse.
Physical Description
292 p. : ill., maps
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Peter Earle, 1937- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Pirate Captain Henry Morgan's raid was the last in a series of attacks on Spanish possessions in the Caribbean, all of which were authorized by the British government. Earle depicts the five years leading up to the raid, followed by a description of Morgan's capture and sack of the city of Panama. Earle covers four campaigns by the Jamaican privateers, culminating in the expedition to Panama and one successful counterattack by the Spaniards, revealing that "altogether, we have one island captured three times by different people, two cities and three towns captured and sacked, and one of the most extraordinary fleet actions in naval history." The narrative offers nearly as much space to the Spaniards, who were the victims, as to the Jamaican privateers themselves. Earle also chronicles the reaction in Spain and England to the events in the West Indies and examines the attempts made by the Spanish colonists in the Indies to defend themselves from their enemies in Jamaica. The result is an intensely engaging account of adventure. ((Reviewed November 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Sensational subtitles notwithstanding, Henry Morgan (c.1635-88) was a legal bearer of English commissions to engage in commerce raiding against Spanish shipping in the southern Caribbean. As both of these works make clear, his exploits were extensions of conflict in Europe, not mere outlawry. Talty (Mulatto America ) follows Morgan's career from his origins in Wales to his death as a corpulent, respectable planter in Jamaica. On the other hand, real piracy was rife in the Americas during the 17th century, and the line between privateer (i.e., Morgan) and pirate depended on where one stood. Talty tells a stirring tale, often using an imaginary crewman, Roderick, who sails with Morgan, fights for loot, drinks it away, and generally exemplifies the rough-and-ready ethos of the richest and most sinful city in the Americas, Port Royal, Jamaica, whose destruction by earthquake and tsunami in 1692 is given a chapter. Earle (economic history, emeritus, Univ. of London; The Pirate Wars ) tells largely the same tale using many of the same sources although far more scrupulously and with no recourse to imaginary characters. His story is a little more academic in tone but manages to imbue the remarkable events with a considerable degree of immediacy. He dwells little on Morgan's biography and stops with his sack of Panama in 1671. Both authors refer to the remarkably democratic relationships among the "Brethren" (a term applicable to both privateers and pirates), in which leaders were elected and shares paid out on the basis of negotiated qualifications (grenadiers were paid extra for each bomb they threw; loss of limb was to be compensated). Given the recent pirate buzz, public libraries might be well advised to buy both. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/06, for Talty's book.]—Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS [Page 100]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his latest vivid and well-researched account of the great era of piracy, historian Earle (The Pirate Wars , etc.) focuses on the greatest achievement of the English corsairs who sailed to Jamaica and their leader Henry Morgan. The capture and sack of Panama in 1671 was the culmination of five years of no-quarter warfare between Spain and Britain in the Caribbean. During that time, one island was captured three times by different people; two cities and three towns were sacked; and Morgan's buccaneers annihilated a Spanish fleet in less than two hours. Earle's extensive use of unexplored Spanish records enables him to avoid the triumphalism of most Anglocentric accounts of these operations. Still, it's clear that Morgan and his followers were willing to accept almost any risk to make profit and harm Spain, and were vicious even by 17th-century standards. The Spaniards appear consistently behind the curve, ascribing their catastrophes to God's will instead of developing their ability to fight back. Ultimately, the English government ended buccaneering's heyday, to preserve a treaty that ended the war with Spain in Europeâ€"but hopes for friendly relations in the Caribbean were destroyed by the flames in Panama on January 28, 1671. (Feb.) [Page 52]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Traces the five years leading up to pirate captain Henry Morgan's fateful Caribbean raid, in an account that offers insight into the experiences of both Spanish victims and Jamaican privateers. By the author of The Pirate Wars. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Captain Henry Morgan's capture of the city of Panamá in 1671 is seen as one of the most audacious military operations in history. In The Sack of Panamá , Peter Earle masterfully retells this classic story, combining thorough research with an emphasis on the battles that made Morgan a pirate legend.Morgan's raid was the last in a series of brutal attacks on Spanish possesions in the Caribbean, all sanctioned by the British crown. Earle recounts the five violent years leading up to the raid, then delivers a detailed account of Morgan's march across enemy territory, as his soldiers contended with hunger, tropical diseases, and possible ambushes from locals. He brings a unique dimension to the story by devoting nearly as much space to the Spanish victims as to the Jamican privateers who were the aggressors.The book covers not only the scandalous events in the Colonial West Indies, but also the alarmed reacions of diplomats and statesmen in Madrid and London. While Morgan and his men were laying siege to Panamá , the simmering hostilities between the two nations resulted in vicious political infighting that rivaled the military battles in intensity. With a wealth of colorful characters and international intrigue, The Sack of Panamá is a painstaking history that doubles as a rip-roaring adventure tale.