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03.11.05 Davis, William C., The Pirates Laffite, The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf, published in 2005 by Harcourt

Notes Concerning Author:

William C. Davis (1946-     ) is currently a professor of history at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, as the school’s Director of Programs at its Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.  An expert on the War Between the States, he has written more than 40 books on the War and other aspects of early Southern history.  He is the only three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Prize for Confederate history and was awarded the Jules F. Landry Award for Southern history.  Davis earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts (History, 1969) degrees from Sonoma State University in California and, for many years was editor and publisher of Civil War Times Illustrated.


Surely, William C. Davis must have considered, The Pirates Laffite, The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf to have been the most difficult task he has ever undertaken, for what could had exceeded the difficulties encountered with language, genealogy and sorting pirate lore from pirate fact.  But he did it.  A wonderful account of a difficult subject.  Pierre and Jean Laffite, brothers born in France to cross the Atlantic and eventually become engaged in piracy, sallied forth often from their pirate camp at Barataria Bay, among the intricate hiding places in Louisiana, a bit west of the outlet of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.  And it was in New Orleans that they sold their stolen goods.

In a review of this book by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution we read, “From just after the Louisiana Purchase through the War of 1812, privateers Jean and Pierre Laffite made life hell for Spanish merchants on the Gulf.  Pirates to the U. S. Navy officer who chased them, heroes to the New Orleanians who shopped for contraband at their well-publicized auctions, the brothers became important members of a filibustering syndicate.  But this allegiance didn’t stop the Laffites from becoming paid Spanish spies, disappearing into the fog of history after selling out their own associates.”

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