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Pirates 2.0

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the latest installment in a series of movies based on a Disney theme ride, is currently in theaters. While the pirate character Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) is a rather dashing and romantic figure, the pirates of today are seen as exactly the opposite. Are they different? Revisit NG content and decide for yourself. Then take a pirate quiz and we’ll see if ye be paying attention.

In the new movie Jack Sparrow must deal with fellow pirate Edward Teach. Better known as Blackbeard, Teach was a real pirate who terrorized ships and coasts in the early 1700s with his ship sporting 40 cannons. After blockading the Charleston harbor he was tracked down and beheaded near Ocracoke. It is said you can sometimes still see his headless body floating on moonlit nights, looking for his head. In Blackbeard’s Shipwreck (July 2006) Joel K. Bourne, Jr. describes his infamous exploits and reports on the excavation of an underwater shipwreck that many believe to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge, flagship of Blackbeard himself. The ship was in the news recently when an anchor was discovered at the site.

“The Strait of Malacca. Pirates haunt it. Sailors fear it, global trade depends on it,” writes Peter Gwin in Dark Passage (Oct. 2007). The Strait is the most direct route between India and China and has a long history of piracy with theft of cargo, entire ships, and seamen themselves.  Follow along with Gwin as he finds out what “happy happy” and “shopping” mean to a Malaccan pirate, and why the “golden mean” in Malacca often tips toward the dark side.