Called America's real-life Robinson Crusoe, the true story of Philip Ashton--a nineteen-year-old fisherman captured by pirates, impressed as a crewman, subjected to torture and hardship, who eventually escaped and lived as a castaway and scavenger on a deserted island in the Caribbean--was at one time as well known as the tales of Cooper, Hawthorne, and Defoe. Based on a rare copy of Ashton's 1725 account, author Gregory N. Flemming's vivid portrait recounts this maritime world during the golden age of piracy. Fishing vessels and merchantmen plied the coastal waters and crisscrossed the Atlantic and Caribbean. It was a hard, dangerous life, made more so by both the depredations and temptations of piracy. Chased by the British Royal Navy, blown out of the water or summarily hung when caught, pirate captains such as Edward Low kidnapped, cajoled, beat, and bribed men like Ashton into the rich--but also vile, brutal, and often short--life of the pirate. Flemming drew not only on Ashton's own first-person account of his experiences, but a wealth of other materialsfrom the Massachusetts Historical Society's collections, including hundreds of colonial newspaper reports, trial records, and the hand-written logbooks and correspondence from the British warships that patrolled the Bay of Honduras and fought with Low's pirates.
Gregory N. Flemming is a former journalist who holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives with his family in New England. His website is www.gregflemming.com.close