I he most authoritative history of piracy, Frank Sherry's rich and colorful account reveals the rise and fall of the real "raiders and rebels" who terrorized the seas. From 1692 to 1725 pirates sailed the oceans of the world, plundering ships laden with the riches of India, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Often portrayed as larger-than-life characters, these outlaw figures and their bloodthirsty exploits have long been immortalized in fiction and film. But beneath the legends is the true story of these brigands—often common men and women escaping the social and economic restrictions of 18th-century Europe and America. Their activities threatened the beginnings of world trade and jeopardized the security of empires. And together, the author argues, they fashioned a surprisingly democratic society powerful enough to defy the world.