More than just a history of the real 'pirates of the Caribbean,' Pirates: A History explores piracy from ancient times to the present day, from the bloodthirsty Viking raiders who terrorised northern Europe to the legendary female Chinese pirate of the 1920s, Lai Choi San. In this history we see how thin the line was between a royally chartered privateer and a pirate, most notably epitomised by Francis Drake. Then there were the Renegades: Europeans captured by the Barbary corsairs who converted to Islam and became pirate captains in their own right. Some were simply cut-throat drunkards, but many pirate ships were run on surprisingly progressive, democratic principles. The 'golden age' of piracy is examined afresh and the colourful characters of the era brought to life. Accounts of Blackbeard, Black Barty and William Kidd illustrate the truth behind the legends of the Jolly Roger.