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CYBILS Winner Review: Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler

Title: Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found
Author: Martin W. Sandler
Year Published: 2017

Genre: YA Non-fiction
Pages: 176
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (MA)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The exciting true story of the captaincy, wreck, and discovery of the Whydah — the only pirate ship ever found — and the incredible mysteries it revealed.

The 1650s to the 1730s marked the golden age of piracy, when fearsome pirates like Blackbeard ruled the waves, seeking not only treasure but also large and fast ships to carry it. The Whydah was just such a ship, built to ply the Triangular Trade route, which it did until one of the greediest pirates of all, Black Sam Bellamy, commandeered it. Filling the ship to capacity with treasure, Bellamy hoped to retire with his bounty — but in 1717 the ship sank in a storm off Cape Cod. For more than two hundred years, the wreck of the Whydah (and the riches that went down with it) eluded treasure seekers, until the ship was finally found in 1984 by marine archaeologists. The artifacts brought up from the ocean floor are priceless, both in value and in the picture they reveal of life in that much-mythologized era, changing much of what we know about pirates. 

Review: I am not all that interested in pirates or pirate ships, but this book is well done. The chapters are brief (about 5 or 6 pages) and each one has an additional two to three pages of additional information such as "life as a pirate" or "dressing like a pirate."

I found it quite interesting to learn about why people in the 1700s became pirates, how it all worked, and I am amazed at the wealth of information and documentation. The last portion of the book deals with the search for and discovery of the sunken Whydah and the riches that were found. I like that the author didn't shy away from the controversy surrounding the search for the Whydah's treasures.

Junior high students will find this book accessible, interesting, and will learn a ton about pirate life (and life in general) in the 1700s.

Challenges for which this counts:

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