How many people can call themselves the direct descendants of real-world "pirates"? Samuel Marquis counts himself among them as the ninth-great-grandson of William Kidd (1654-1701), who we know today as America’s “maritime Kit Carson and Jesse James.” I’m thrilled now to have sold Samuel’s new biography of his relative, Captain Kidd: The American Patriot-Privateer Who Defied the English Empire, to Evan Phail at Diversion Books.
This is an action-packed work of American and world history, and it will change the way you look at colonial America and the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1730). Privateers and pirates of the 1600-1700s were generally not the romanticized, rum-swilling, throat-slitting degenerates portrayed in Treasure Island or Pirates of the Caribbean. Instead, they were mostly young, semi-reputable working men and older gentlemen, often with families, who were sponsored and supported by everyone from colonial governors and customs collectors to merchants, dockworkers, shopkeepers, and clergymen. They were seamen who were often closely tied to land-based communities and had wives, friends, and family members that loved them. That was certainly the case with Captain Kidd; in fact, the supreme irony at the heart of this book is that the man widely considered “the greatest pirate of all time” was no pirate at all.
So who really was Captain Kidd? Split into six sections, Samuel covers Kidd as a humble-born Englishman, plucky Caribbean privateer, wealthy man of affairs in New York, and leader of the ill-fated 1696-1699 Indian Ocean expedition. Kidd’s life may have concluded with the sensational, and wrongful, 1701 London trial for murder and piracy, which resulted in Kidd’s execution, but his legacy has lived on in the writings of Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and countless modern-day treasure hunters. Samuel brings to this story new historical insights and scientific revelations about Kidd’s identity.
Aside from being a great-grandson of William Kidd’s, Samuel Marquis is the award-winning author of twelve American history, historical fiction, and suspense books, including his Blackbeard biography which won a Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Award and has been the top-selling book about Blackbeard on Amazon for the past 5 years. Samuel is regularly consulted on American history for media outlets including the History Channel and The Historians podcast.
Congratulations to Samuel and his editor, Evan!