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Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a…
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Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews… (2008)

by Edward Kritzler

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If this history had been a more careful, better sourced history, I think I’d have liked it better. If it were historical fiction concentrating on two or three Jewish pirates, instead of talking about people across nationalities, cultures and politics (both religious and national) I’d have liked it better. As it is, it’s a better concept than it is a book. When I was Sunday School, or possibly Hebrew School, as a student many, many years ago, a teacher said that Columbus may have been Jewish but certainly sailed with Jewish sailors. This information has been around a long time. The Age of Exploration is also genocide, several times over: of Indians, of Jews because it coincided with the Inquisition, and of Africans taken from their homes as slaves. According to this book, the Triangle Trade was funded by, sailed by and profited by Jews. I’m done here. ( )
  anyanwubutler | Nov 24, 2013 |
Kritzler's portrait of the Jewish pirate, and more broadly, the Jewish entrepreneur of the period of Europe's mass expulsions and pogroms, has all the elements of a great tale, immediately evoking Chabon's novel of swashbuckling Jews, Gentlemen of the Road. However, Kitzler's book is hard to read, repetitive, switches tenses, and otherwise pulls the reader out of the narrative and into an irritated search for previous statements, chronology, and gist. If you can work around the problematic delivery, you should find this a fascinating account of how Jewish and converso merchants, spurred by the threat of the Inquisition, helped determine the political fate of the Caribbean and other New World colonies.

I've read some complaints that Kritzler doesn't apologize for the involvement of Jews in the slave trade. Actually, he describes it as limited and does provide some commentary, though long after his first mention of this activity. However, this criticism seems to me to be beside the point--Kinzler neither defends nor reprimands his subjects for any specific actions. While the overall tone is admiring, the overall style is reportage.

( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Easy to read and makes a surprisingly awesome story. ( )
  pineapplejuggler | Mar 11, 2012 |
uick route to the West Indies, Spain expelled the Jews. Some 300,000 people were affected. Jewish communities who had lived in Spain for generations faced three choices: convert to Christianity, leave the country or face the inquisition.

Some became pirates.

Who knew?

Eward Kritzler's new book, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a generation of swashbuckling Jews carved out an empire in the New World in their quest for treasure, religious freedom and Revenge, looks at the Jews forced into hiding by their expulsion from Spain who became essential to the exploration and development of the New World and at how many of them became successful pirates during the golden age of Caribbean piracy.

Here's the story of one, Samuel Palache, the pirate rabbi.

Samuel Palache grew up in Morocco where many Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition years before his birth found safety inside a walled ghetto protected by the sultan who needed their financial expertise. Some 50,000 Jews led successful lives inside the ghetto of Fez, but they were not allowed freedom of movement outside the ghetto's walls. Coming from a family of rabbis, Samuel Palache began his rabbinical training at a young age studying both the Torah and the Talmud and becoming fluent in many languages including Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and Chaldean. When he reached adulthood, Palache became a merchant pirate, free to leave the ghetto in the service of the sultan.

He later tried to settle in Spain working for King Phillip II, but the inquisition forced him to flee to Amsterdam where the ideals of religious freedom produced an uneasy refuge for many of Spain's exiled Jews. There Palache became the rabbi for a small community of 50 or so Jewish merchant families. Through the remainder of his life he continued to lead pirate attacks on the Spanish coast in the service of the sultan of Morocco and to serve as a rabbi in his Amsterdam home. When he died in 1616, six mounted horses draped in black pulled the hearse. Prince Maurice and the local city magistrates marched behind it followed by the entire Jewish community which then numbered just over 1,200 people.

There are many such accounts in Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean which makes for fascinating reading. What there is not is an overarching thesis bringing the entire book together for a particular purpose. While I found Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean interesting and enlightening, I wanted it all to come to a point and for Mr. Kritzler to come to conclusions. Mr. Kritzler is interested in resurrecting largely forgotten Jewish contributions to the exploration and settlement of the New World. The Jewish navigators who sailed with Juan Cabral, the businessmen who brought the sugar industry to Jamaica along with the pirates who caused so much grief for the Kings of Spain have not been a part of any history book I've ever read before. For this, I give Mr. Kritzler full credit. And for this, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean is an excellent book. ( )
  CBJames | Jul 17, 2011 |
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was a little mired in the end notes and all the characters, but I learned a lot about this period of history, which is often glossed over in history courses, despite our undying fascination with Columbus and the age of exploration.This is really the story about how the Jews, driven from country to country in Europe, seize the opportunity to explore the new world in the hopes of finding a safe refuge where they can live and work without the constant fear of the Inquisition. Well-researched and interesting, it's a good read if you want to learn more about the colonial era and like all that European political intrigue. ( )
  gmmoney | Sep 8, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385513984, Hardcover)

At the end of the fifteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition forced many Jews to flee the country. The most adventurous among them took to the high seas as freewheeling outlaws. In ships bearing names such as the Prophet Samuel, Queen Esther, and Shield of Abraham, they attacked and plundered the Spanish fleet while forming alliances with other European powers to ensure the safety of Jews living in hiding.

JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is the entertaining saga of a hidden chapter in Jewish history and of the cruelty, terror, and greed that flourished during the Age of Discovery. Readers will meet such daring figures as “the Great Jewish Pirate” Sinan, Barbarossa’s second-in-command; the pirate rabbi Samuel Palache, who founded Holland's Jewish community; Abraham Cohen Henriques, an arms dealer who used his cunning and economic muscle to find safe havens for other Jews; and his pirate brother Moses, who is credited with the capture of the Spanish silver fleet in 1628--the largest heist in pirate history.

Filled with high-sea adventures—including encounters with Captain Morgan and other legendary pirates—and detailed portraits of cities stacked high with plunder, such as Port Royal, Jamaica, JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN captures a gritty and glorious era of history from an unusual and eye-opening perspective.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At the end of the fifteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition forced Jews to flee the country. The most adventurous among them took to the high seas as freewheeling outlaws; attacking and plundering the Spanish fleet while forming alliances with other European powers to ensure the safety of Jews living in hiding. This book is the entertaining saga of a hidden chapter in Jewish history and of the cruelty, terror, and greed that flourished during the Age of Discovery. Readers will meet such daring figures as the pirate rabbi Samuel Palache, who founded Holland's Jewish community; Abraham Cohen Henriques, an arms dealer who used his cunning and economic muscle to find safe havens for other Jews; and his pirate brother Moses, credited with the capture of the Spanish silver fleet in 1628--the largest heist in pirate history. Historian Kritzler here captures a gritty and glorious era of history from an eye-opening perspective.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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