Cover Image: Born to Be Hanged

Born to Be Hanged

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Member Reviews

Highly recommend this one! This was my first book to read by this author but definitely won't be my last. The characters will stay with you long after you finish the book and you will find yourself wishing the story would never end.
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I was pleasantly surprised by the "historicity" of this book. Even the most outrageous stories are bolstered by details like dates, locations, names and sources. Thomson does an incredible job of providing facts in a way that makes the incredulous more believable. 

On the other hand, such detailed writing made this a more difficult read than I had anticipated. At times I found myself backtracking to look up names and places. 

If you have any interest in pirate or maritime history and have a palate for somewhat formal historical writing, I recommend you give this a try!

- Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy!
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Unfortunately I could not get into it , I don’t think I was the right target audience. However I am planning on buying and gifting to both my father in law and my cousin since I think they will love it.
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Pirates almost always rate well in what I like to call Goodtime Nonfiction, and the swashbuckling fellows in Born to Be Hanged are no exception. 

There’s not a lot of new information about pirates here in a general sense. At its heart this is just, well, a book about pirates doing pirate-y things. This isn’t a negative comment so much as a warning to the reader that this is neither a) a primer for those looking to learn the basics of the piracy golden age or b) brand new, unique insight into pirate life that those who are well-informed on the subject have never seen before.

Rather, it’s a fun and funny account of one particular group of pirates who basically behave similarly to all other groups of pirates. The deliberate emphasis that they are “gentlemen pirates” rings a bit hollow. They’re pirates who act exactly like most other pirates. They have ethics and morals which may or may not align with conventional morals of their time or ours. Sometimes they’re merciful. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they provision the survivors of a ship they’ve conquered. Sometimes they eat their own pet spaniel. 

Anyway, I was expecting a more unusual tale given how the book was promoted. But I enjoyed reading it anyway. It’s fun, funny, well-paced, and interesting, and pirates rarely miss the mark for me in terms of content.
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Born to Be Hanged is perfect for anyone with an interest in the history of pirates. The book is incredibly detailed with a clear great deal of research going into it. The bibliography proves that alone. Besides the fact that this nonfiction book on pirates is fast-paced and addictive. Even those who prefer fiction would be entertained. Highly recommended!
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Coming from all across the globe, no bigger den of thieves and villainy could be imagined than this group of ocean criminals who converge in the Caribbean in hopes of plunder. Under the auspices of rescuing a princess and pillaging from the Spanish the group begins a trek to acquire riches only to find out after they begin their assault that the treasure is already gone. Regrouping with new plans, the band heads to new towns to rob with everyone eventually either getting tired of this type of life, some getting caught, and some just going back to high seas piracy. The whole situation is wild and shines a light on the difficulty of pirate life along with the risk, not just from the law. Using firsthand accounts as well as research, it is a fascinating insight in the mind of a pirate. The book is well researched and the story itself is so crazy as to struggle to be believed aside from the fact that there are primary sources documenting the escalating series of misadventures of the pirate band. The pace of the book is so break neck that even nonfiction haters should be entertained by this wild living group of villains.
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An excellent inside look at the lives of pirates.  It felt similar to Marcus Rediker's 'Villains of All Nations', so fans of that book should certainly give this one a chance. I'm looking forward to seeing what else this author writes in the future.
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I heard about this book on bookstagram and was instantly intrigued. Nonfiction about pirates? Consider me crimped! I highly enjoyed this book and all the details I learned about mutiny, scurvy, and larceny. When a book is 23% annotated bibliography, then you know you’re in for a highly detailed (and thankfully interesting!) account.
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This eminently readable tale is well-researched, telling the story of a sea-going band of brothers, British pirates who spurned a sedate life in England to plunder and buccaneer the seas near Panama. They ultimately crossed the isthmus on foot and ended up in the Pacific.

These guys were incredibly brave, not to mention excellent marksmen equipped with superior weaponry. And some of their navigation feats were impressive.

They actually operated in a fairly democratic manner aboard ship - electing their own leaders and choosing the Spanish targets of their plundering ways.

They were motivated mainly by profit. They were amazingly successful against larger numbers but usually drank and gambled their takings away.

A fun and entertaining read. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thomson consulted a wealth of primary materials in writing this book and it shows. The descriptions of the crewmembers, the perils of the South American jungle, and the ferocious scenes of battles make this a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in maritime history, readers of Patrick Obrien, or fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Despite the tale of Captain Morgan being full of adventure, Thomson does not fail to address all of the important goings-on of the world to paint a full picture of why Morgan was there, and what he and his men were doing mattered. There is no neglect of descriptions of political turmoil, harsh conditions, or legal ramifications to bring the larger-than-life exploits of Captain Morgan back to reality.
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I enjoyed reading this! It was full of fun info and made sure to confirm or deny popular myths and ideas about pirates, buccaneers and privateers. I liked the stories that were talked about, the chronological way that they were explored, and the easy and accessible tone that was used. I don’t read much nonfiction for fun (perils of being an English and history student — you read too much mandatory and research nonfiction to enjoy it in your time off), but I loved this book and the way that it approached the history by way of storytelling. I’ll definitely be reading more from Keith Thomson.
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“Born to Be Hanged: The Epic Story of the Gentlemen Pirates Who Raided the South Seas, Rescued a Princess, and Stole a Fortune,” by Keith Thomson (ISBN: 9780316703611, publication date 10 May 2022), earns five stars.

Author Keith Thomson weaves an absolutely fascinating and factual tale of English privateers, plunder, a princess, and perseverance despite the worst odds of success and dangers of the greatest sort. Thompson’s lively prose transports us to the 17th Century. There we sail with them along the Pacific coast of South America, which was Spain’s “possession,” Great Britain’s enemy. 

The author’s impressive research is evident, making amazing use of the privateers’ contemporaneous diaries and testimony. This gives the reader extraordinary personal insights into these adventuring pirates sailing out of the Caribbean as they capture opposing vessels, pursue great wealth, and protect their nation’s interests. 

Their words treat us to their view of their world as they sail the seas, engage in combat, make daunting treks, and receive justice from the highest maritime court. It is an epic journey and a momentous book. Definitely a five-star adventure.

Thanks to the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, for granting this reviewer the opportunity to read this Advance Reader Copy (ARC), and thanks to NetGalley for helping to make that possible.
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This book is fantastic! The history is well written, researched, explained with gold nuggets spread throughout inserted brilliantly.

First, if you'll note my reviews, I do not get a NetGalley offer and praise it up and down hoping for print recognition. I've skewed most because most newly written books have proven to me to be demonstrably worthless. 

I find the usual issue are political views being lodged into the narrative and then flogging the reader with the views over and over again. I get it if the book is prefaced upon political ideas. Even found one writer expounding political gunk throughout a horrid history of Looney Tunes cartoons!

Writer Thomson writes history as history should be written, as it happened with supporting documentation. Thomson also does what is rare to find in most histories ever written, dates and years of happenings. This so much aids the reader as to context and connecting ongoing events. This last is the spine that all else emanates as the narrative pours out extensive details and stories of the travels of the pirating privateers and those they encounter. Additional background is sprinkled that adds to the shine of the history with, no doubt, exclamations of, "Oh! I didn't know that!" I love the way he connects various everyday items of today to the goings-on in the late 1600s.

The writing is also crisp and vibrant. There's more than the occasional writer who makes history as a fictional novel. This is far better than that. The writing excels between what could be dry history and fictional dialogue to support the narrative. Thomson skillfully maneuvers the documented historical perspectives into a solid presentation that compels reading more and more. In this case it's the wonder of who survives and how. 

Well worth reading and likely to lead in those that don't even like history or pirates. For those of us who has history as part of our profession, this is a must-read.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. Ten out of ten points.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting and kept me interested throughout!
Thanks to publisher and NetGalley for access to ARC.
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This was an intriguing read! I really enjoyed the subject and learned a lot of information I didn't know before reading this book. I have been looking for an interesting read on pirates as I haven't read any nonfiction books on pirates as of yet. Born to be Hanged definitely satisfied that need. I saw this title and cover and was drawn in.
This was thoroughly researched and detailed. The author, Keith Thomson, even uses the words from the mouths of these pirates and those accompanying them, and written accounts from that time in history. If you love anything Nautical, and especially pirates... I reccomend this one!

Thank you Netgalley and Little Brown for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.
All opinions are my own.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Little Brown & Company for an advanced copy of this new nautical history of pirates.

Being a pirate back in the Golden Age of Piracy, looks like great fun, at least in the movies by Errol Flynn or Disney studios. Call yourself and your companions buccaneers, receive letters of marque to attack ships that were considered enemies, steal their gold, sail away and spend the night drinking with your mates. The reality was a lot different, as shown in Keith Thomson's Born to Be Hanged: The Epic Story of the Gentlemen Pirates Who Raided the South Seas, Rescued a Princess, and Stole a Fortune. A pirate really had to hustle to hassle the enemy, travelling long distances, with poor food, leaky ships and companions who might not be the most trustworthy. 

The book begins with a quick history of the times and the powers in the area, Spanish, English, and French. A group of disparate men from every where in Europe, and from every social circle gather in the Caribbean with dreams of plunder. Joining together in the interest of freeing a native princess from the Spanish, and liberating their treasury, the men travel overland to a small settlement, are successful at the assault, but learn that the treasure has been taken to safety. Not liking this the men set off again across Panama, through jungle and raging rivers until reaching the South Sea, where they begin an assault on towns up and down the Pacific. Fortunes are made, property is destroyed and lives are lost. Some tire of the life, and return to England, where they are held for trial for their depravations. Some retire and are lost to history. And some go back to the only life they know. 

The books is very good read, that flows like a novel, but tells a very interesting and very comprehensive history of the era. The book is well sourced with much coming from the pirates own words, journals, court transcripts and even a book or two from a pirate turned author. There is a certain understanding that maybe some of the stories are downplayed, especially during a trial, or full of brags and lies when talking to the boys, but a good solid story can be told from this. My favorite part is just when everything might have gone easier, the pirates always picked the harder way to do something. The book is full of seiges, sea battles, life on board and lots of walking and sailing. Lots of sailing. My only realy problem was that there was quite a few different pirates telling their tales, and sometimes it was hard to follow who was who. However that was a minor quibble. 

A book full of the swash and the buckle. Highly recommended for a Father's Day gift or a great book to read on the beach. For fans of history, Patrick O'Brien readers, or readers of Pyrates books. Also for people who have watched the HBO/MAX show on real pirates. And for fans like me who used to play  Syd Meier's Pirates! game for hours upon hours. Four fun salute.
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I enjoyed this non fiction book about a real life pirate. Who lived a life that seemed more fiction than fact but was very much fact. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in a few days.
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I very often watch TV shows and groan when a big twist happens. A main character is in a seemingly impossible situation but somehow survives. It feels cheap and contrived. What does this have to do with Keith Thomson’s Born to Be Hanged? Well, his book is full of these types of situations and somehow the pirates don’t all die immediately. 

Thomson follows the true story of a band of pirates who cross Panama on foot with the intention of freeing a native princess and maybe doing some plundering. This trip becomes a two-year odyssey of the most inexplicable decision-making I have ever read.

While the story alone is amazing, the book is further elevated by Thomson. He realizes just how absurd his characters are and he leans into it. I laughed out loud quite often from Thomson’s humorous asides. This is a highly readable adventure which anyone can enjoy.
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Thank you, NetGalley for the opportunity of reading Born to Be Hanged. This deeply rich book makes one feel as though they are sailing along with the Buccaneers navigation in canoes, stealing Spanish gallon ships, and foraging for food on deserted islands while questing for gold and silver.  The book is wonderfully written, a mixture of diary entries and research to round out what life was like for these men who roamed the South Seas in a quest for riches. 
There is so much to relish in this book as stories are pulled from real people. One has to realize that the book  must be taken with a grain of salt as the men may have embellished their tales,  were often drunk, ill, and fighting for their survival. Even with guns and grit,  navigating the waters was never easy, given that they were always enemies lurking on the horizon.  Storms were also a constant threat, and when they hit they were often  so fierce they were capable of breaking a boat apart and causing ships to lose their way never to be seen again.  Decisions had to be made by all the men in the group even with a captain, as missions were always fraught danger, and sometimes men would abort. Life was often on the edge, as men were killed in battles and leadership had to be rearranged. 
This books gets us into the minds of swashbuckling pirates, with lots of action and a provides insights that most books don't cover.
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