For readers of Nathaniel Philbrick and David McCullough, a riveting account of the roguish acts of the first pirates to raid the Pacific in a crusade that ended in a sensational trial back in England.
The year is 1680, in the heart of the Golden Age of Piracy, and more than three hundred daring, hardened pirates—a potent mix of low-life scallywags and a rare breed of gentlemen buccaneers—gather in a remote bay of modern-day Panama. The plan: to wreak havoc on the Panamanian coastline, raiding cities, mines, and merchant ships. The booty: the bright gleam of Spanish gold and the chance to become a legend.
Inspired by the intrepid adventures of pirate turned Jamaican governor, Captain Henry Morgan—yes, that Captain Morgan—the company sets out upon one of the greatest escapades in the history of piracy, crossing the jungle isthmus of the Darien, liberating a native princess, sacking the port of Panama City, and setting off a cascade of hysteria and panic as they maraud up and down the western coastline of South America.
With novelistic prose and a rip-roaring sense of adventure, Keith Thomson guides us through the pirates’ legendary two-year expedition. We witness the buccaneers evading indigenous tribes, Spanish conquistadors, and even their own English countrymen, all with the ever-present threat of the gallows for anyone captured. By fusing contemporaneous accounts with intensive research and previously unknown primary sources, Born to Be Hanged unfolds the rollicking story of one of the most astonishing pirate adventures ever told.

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“What a rollicking ride! Born to Be Hanged is serious narrative history delivered as gripping entertainment, with all the panache of an adventure novel. Keith Thomson unspools the excesses and escapades of the high seas in what we come to see is truly the Golden Age of Piracy. From the signing of the buccaneers’ initial charter to their life-or-death trial back in England two years later, I followed every battle, chase, and standoff with rapt attention. Thomson not only brings the seventeenth century to life in vivid detail; he weaves his humor and keen observations into the character studies of the pirates themselves. This book is a riveting historical delight not to be missed.”

Keith O’Brien, author of the New York Times bestseller Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
Born to Be Hanged is swashbuckling narrative nonfiction at its best. Thomson skillfully weaves in the history and geopolitics of the period even as he puts the reader in the middle of an action-packed thriller that does not let up. By the end of this myth-busting, stranger-than-fiction tale, I wanted to raise a tankard of rum and toast the death-defying adventures of the greatest buccaneers of the seventeenth-century.”—James L. Swanson, author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The Twelve-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
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