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Book Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe

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“If you were to splice the mainsail, what would it actually involve? And how would it be accomplished?” That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question for the Pirate Captain, the protagonist, linguist, historian, braggadocio, swordsman, manager, slacker,and pretty-lousy-excuse-for-a-captain if I ever saw one! “Pirate Captain” (“P.C.” is that privileged character or politically correct?) sets out on his fourth adventure in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe. Pirate Captain is trying (again) for the prestigious “Pirate of the Year” award in the annual competition. This year’s contest is being conducted on Skull Island. One of Pirate Captain’s minions consoles, “Well, maybe the twelfth time will be a charm.”

If you were expecting an exciting swashbuckling adventure or maybe an historical documentary involving famous pirates, you’ll be disappointed. If social and political commentary, satire, and parody (often to the point of absurdity) are more your taste, then this is the book for you! Defoe offers the reader a generic patsy in the Pirate Captain. Insert your favorite person-to-be-ridiculed here: ____________. The crew is known by descriptive monikers such as the pirate in red, the pirate with a scarf, the pirate in green, the pirate who likes kittens and sunsets with one notable exception, Jennifer — the one we’d like most to know more about. Jennifer is the astute logical thinker who dares to ask the questions the reader is thinking. WTF? What the hell is going on in here? Are you an idiot?! Quick with the questions, Jennifer is also quick to loyally side with her Pirate Captain and help with excuses for his dim witted behavior.

Once again, after not winning “Pirate of the Year,” Pirate Captain decides to change careers and seek fame and fortune on the island paradise(?) of St. Helena. Why did he pick this island? Black Bellamy’s brochure claimed St. Helena was “idyllic,” “Elysian,” and “paradisical” among other choice adjectives. This reviewer thinks St. Helena was chosen by Pirate Captain because that’s where Napoleon was exiled by the British and if somewhere else had been chosen, Defoe would have had to come up with another plot device in order for Pirate Captain to cross trails with the namesake of the book. Or, maybe another famous person in history would have to be used and the title changed. Wait! See how easy it is to get caught up in Defoe’s story?

Readers will enjoy getting to know the pirates and Napoleon and see how they get acquainted and deal with each other’s dispositions, egos, and plans. Is this island big enough for both of these guys? Will Pirate Captain survive to experience another adventure? Or maybe he should just order another round.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe came out in hardback in 2009 in the United States and is now available in paperback. Pick one up today. It’s not too early for Christmas shopping!

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