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Download Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgans Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws Bloody Reign Audiobook, by Stephan Talty Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.61 out of 53.61 out of 53.61 out of 53.61 out of 53.61 out of 5 3.61 (36 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephan Talty Narrator: John H. Mayer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2007 ISBN: 9781415935958
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He challenged the greatest empire on earth with a ragtag bunch of renegades—and brought it to its knees. Empire of Blue Water is the real story of the pirates of the Caribbean.

Henry Morgan, a twenty-year-old Welshman, crossed the Atlantic in 1655, hell-bent on making his fortune. Over the next three decades, his exploits in the Caribbean in the service of the English became legendary. His daring attacks on the mighty Spanish Empire on land and at sea determined the fates of kings and queens, and his victories helped shape the destiny of the New World.

Morgan gathered disaffected European sailors and soldiers, hard-bitten adventurers, runaway slaves, and vicious cutthroats, and turned them into the most feared army in the Western Hemisphere. Sailing out from the English stronghold of Port Royal, Jamaica, “the wickedest city in the New World,” Morgan and his men terrorized Spanish merchant ships and devastated the cities where great riches in silver, gold, and gems lay waiting. His last raid, a daring assault on the fabled city of Panama, helped break Spain’s hold on the Americas forever. 

Awash with bloody battles, political intrigues, natural disaster, and a cast of characters more compelling, bizarre, and memorable than any found in a Hollywood swashbuckler—including the notorious pirate L’Ollonais, the soul-tortured King Philip IV of Spain, and Thomas Modyford, the crafty English governor of Jamaica—Empire of Blue Water brilliantly re-creates the passions and the violence of the age of exploration and empire.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Talty’s vigorous history of seventeenth-century pirates of the Caribbean will sate even fickle Jack Sparrow fans. . . . A pleasure to read from bow to stern. Entertainment Weekly
  • A swashbuckling adventure . . . [the] characters leap to life. New York Times Book Review
  • A ripping yarn, worthy of its gaudy subject. Dallas Morning News
  • A sparkling and engrossing adventure narrative. Boston Phoenix
  • Fresh insight into pirates’ dens of old . . . Well-researched nonfiction that reads like a novel. Washington Times
  • Swashbuckling history at its bloody, blood-soaked best, and a mirror to our own times. Tom Reiss, author of The Orientalist
  • Morgan proves an irresistible hero. A thrilling and fascinating adventure. Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance and The Bounty
  • “Rollicking . . . with style and energy Talty tells a tale of boundless wickedness. William M. Fowler, author of Empires at War
  • Reeking of authentic blood and thunder, and as richly detailed as a work of fiction, Empire of Blue Water dramatically evokes the rough-and-tumble age when pirates owned the seas. In Stephan Talty’s hands, the brilliant Captain Morgan, wicked and cutthroat though he was, proves an irresistible hero. A thrilling and fascinating adventure. Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance and The Bounty
  • Stephan Talty’s new book serves up swashbuckling history at its briny, blood-soaked best, with enough violence and passion to keep the pages flying by. But it’s not only blood and swash: Empire of Blue Water is also a mirror to our own times, showing that attempting globalization against a backdrop of the clash of civilizations is nothing new,and that religious violence is often a thinly veiled cover for greed and personal ambition. Talty's portrait of the legendary privateer Henry Morgan is a marvelous study in contradictions—a man of astounding heroism, brilliance, compassion, and charm, who was also capable of the greatest betrayal. Tom Reiss, author of The Orientalist
  • A wickedly entertaining tale of pirates and the Caribbean seas they once ruled like kings. Epic sea battles, daring adventures, rich history, great villains and heroes alike—it’s a treasure. Neal Bascomb, author of The Perfect Mile and Higher
  • In a riveting history that reads like the best novels, Stephan Talty stylishly extricates the pirates of the Caribbean from the imprecise caricature that so often consumes them. Layer by fascinating layer, Talty peels away the eye patch and theshiver-me-timbers brogue to reveal the raucous, complex and authentic buccaneers
    of the “Brethren of the Coast.” . . . Storytelling and history to be savored.
    Buddy Levy, author of American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett
  • Engrossing . . . a swashbuckling tale of how the history of the Americas was shaped by a small group of daring brigands. Matthew Brzezinski, author of Casino Moscow
  • A fascinating look inside [a] glamorous and gritty world. Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise
  • Exceptionally well-told . . . an exhilarating adventure in reading. Kerry A. Trask, author of Black Hawk

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joaquin | 2/11/2014

    " Captain Morgan, that jaunty pirate-looking guy of spiced rum. Who'd've thought he was an actual pirate? Pretty neat. Not the most exciting or gripping read in the world, but still, it was pretty understanding-expanding for me. For whatever reason, my knowledge of the 'New' World prior to 1776ish is pretty hazy. So reading this book helped me appreciate the how much New World history there is prior to the Declaration of Independence. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marty Crandall | 2/11/2014

    " Very interesting history - but some of the storytelling techniques were annoying. The author invented a fictional character to describe the average pirate, I felt that the fiction distracted from the really cool history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moira | 2/8/2014

    " I took in the audio version of this book, narrated by a gravelly-throated John H. Mayer. He turned the history into a tale that could've been told at the back of a dim sailor's dive, a place packed with rowdy pirates and privateers and buccaneers all whipped from salt and wind, all with scars, some with missing appendages. Havin read a few pirate romances, I knew reality wouldn't paint them in such a swashbuckling, to-die-for light, and sure enough, they were greedy cutthroats who pillaged and plundered and then went back to Port Royal (home base for the English pirates) and gave it all away to barkeeps and whores. Giving, in that way, I suppose. Still, every profession has its code of conduct. What impressed me was how egalitarian they all were. All got an equal vote, all got a fair share of the booty, right down to the cabin boy. They even had a version of worker's comp for those injured during the course of action. The captain ruled only during times of battle at sea. And if you were a pirate under the command of Captain Morgan you were in safe hands. Oh, but he was a cunning man. Again and again the wiry Welshman outsmarted the dastardly Spanish. The Spanish in this telling are cast as the villains because they won't allow trade on their lands which the English find appalling. The King and his bureaucrats encouraged the pirates and privateers (pirates with official commissions to wreck havoc) until eventually, the English signed a treaty with the Spanish and the highwaymen of the sea were suddenly deemed to be criminals. For you see, pirates, despite all their wild courage and larger-than-life exploits, were, in the end, political pawns. How that all came to be is a well-spun yarn thanks to Mr. Talty and Mr. Mayer. I'll remember you both fondly every time I toss back my shot of Captain Morgan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 2/5/2014

    " 3.5 stars. Enjoyed it! A nice popular history (he's not a purist, you guys - he makes up a 'character' to represent the common pirate/seaman...the device was a little cheesy, but I didn't really mind). It's a good story, is the main thing - I didn't know anything about this period/region, and now I do. Whoooooo hoo! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fritz | 1/24/2014

    " Love the premise, but the actual writing is TERRIBLE. I'd find better from a 4th grader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally | 1/24/2014

    " The subject (pirates) was one with which I was unfamiliar. I liked learning more. However, the writing was poor. It was very choppy and he had an imaginary character (in the middle of his non fiction book) and it was just weird. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ryan | 1/20/2014

    " I give up. I only made it 85 or so pages into this. It was just OK. The time period, politics, and histories of the era were interesting enough, but there are just too many things I'd rather read first. Maybe I'll pick it up again later, but you know how that goes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/17/2014

    " Suprisingly amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neal Holman | 1/13/2014

    " Packed with bits of history I wasn't remotely aware of, this was a great time killer read. Not necessarily a page turner, but definitely worth picking up for a lazy Sunday. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott Lewis | 1/8/2014

    " This was a great book. If you like this book give equal consideration to the book The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 12/16/2013

    " The true story of the pirates of the Caribbean. A must read for history buffs and pirate fans alike. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lori | 11/24/2013

    " Excessively detailed, very well researched. Sometimes it was a little dry, mostly when the author had to veer off of the pirates' exploits to explain Spanish politics. Otherwise a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike Dettinger | 8/31/2013

    " Great book. As good and exciting as Johnny depp but a historical account. Well written and fun stuff! Avast ye Marie's! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Seth | 2/23/2013

    " Good history of the Caribbean and the Spanish Main, centering on Henry Morgan. Interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Thompson | 2/3/2013

    " Fabulous, amazing history lesson about one man who brought the world's mightiest, richest empire to its knees. They don't make Buccaneer Kings like that anymore! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Drew | 10/15/2012

    " You mean to tell me pirates were not the swashbuckling sea going adventurers? A good read to understand what pirates were about and as an added bonus what happened to Port Royal. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ken | 9/9/2012

    " Interesting chapter of history that I didn't know much about. Somehow the writing style made it a little hard to follow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Blake | 5/16/2012

    " Extremely readable; probably a four-star book, but I had to pause several times during the reading of it to handle work stuff, and then out-of-town stuff, and as a result, I rather lost any sense of cohesion. I'll probably put this on the shelf to reread this summer when I've more time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donald | 5/5/2012

    " Many other reviewers have stated it, but it is true. This book of history reads more like fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin | 3/16/2012

    " A history of Henry Morgan's reign of terror in the Spanish Main. Interesting subject matter, but really, really poorly written. Every ten pages felt like reading fifty. Still, I learned a lot of fascinating stuff, especially about the Port Royal earthquake. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 2/29/2012

    " The real pirates of the caribbean. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jake | 1/12/2012

    " You would think a book with pirates would be an automatic five stars. But it misses the mark. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen | 5/2/2011

    " Good job! Now the distinction between "pirates" and buccanners" is clear. Good narrative, good historical context and snappy writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angela | 2/20/2011

    " I loved this book - I literally sat at the edge of my seat while I read it. Captain Morgan makes the characters in Pirates of the Caribbean seem lightweight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 1/15/2011

    " I had to read the book about my namesake pirate captain...and no not the rum guy. Awesome look at the influence of the pirates in the new world and American history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 1/12/2011

    " Interesting in that all most people know about this era comes from Hollywood movies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pelle | 1/6/2011

    " Readable and fairly thorough book into the lives and battles of the buccaneers of Port Royal. The author tries hard to create a human face on the pirates and their victims which mostly works well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Seth | 12/20/2010

    " Good history of the Caribbean and the Spanish Main, centering on Henry Morgan. Interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally | 10/5/2010

    " The subject (pirates) was one with which I was unfamiliar. I liked learning more. However, the writing was poor. It was very choppy and he had an imaginary character (in the middle of his non fiction book) and it was just weird. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeannie | 10/4/2010

    " Not bad in terms of the organization and pacing, but the purple prose was a detractor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 9/30/2010

    " Explains the role that the real pirates of the Caribbean played as mercenaries in the long battle between European empires for the new world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 9/4/2010

    " Fascinating. This book gave me a good understanding of what pirate life was like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debby | 4/6/2010

    " An interesting perspective on commissions and privatiers as a milatary tool. Sympathetic view of Captain Henry Morgan. He still was ruthless but interesting. Well written story telling of the period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neal | 4/1/2010

    " I like books about pirates! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 3/12/2010

    " The true story of the pirates of the Caribbean. A must read for history buffs and pirate fans alike. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neal | 3/10/2010

    " Packed with bits of history I wasn't remotely aware of, this was a great time killer read. Not necessarily a page turner, but definitely worth picking up for a lazy Sunday. "

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About the Author
Stephan Talty is a widely published journalist who has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water and Mulatto America: At the Crossroads of Black and White Culture.
About the Narrator

John H. Mayer is a writer, actor, and audiobook narrator. In 1973, he cowrote Radio Rocket Boy, an award-winning short film. He also has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including American Lion and The Wolf Tree, among many others.