This book sets out to discover the truth behind the stereotypical image of the pirate. Examining the rich literary and cultural legacy of piratical icons from Blackbeard to Captain Hook, the author compares the legends with their historical counterparts and comes up with some surprising conclusions. In a wider overview of the piracy myth, he explores its enduring and extraordinary appeal and assesses the reality behind the romance, answering in the process questions such as: why did men become pirates? Were there any women pirates? How much money did they make from their plundering and looting? What effect did their activities have on trade in the Caribbean and elsewhere? And were pirates really dashing highwaymen of the seven seas or just vicious cutthroats and robbers? From Long John Silver to Henry Morgan, Robert Louis Stevenson to J.M. Barrie, this book examines all the heavyweights of history and literature and presents a survey of this phenomenon.