Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guest Author Tara Kingston on Pirates, Privateers, and Hollywood

Today on History Undressed, I'd like to welcome Tara Kingston back! Pirates have always fascinated me, and Hollywood certainly does a great job of perpetuating that fascination. Thanks for stopping by Tara and giving us a closer look!

Pirates, Privateers, and Hollywood
by Tara Kingston

As I begin this post, I need to make two confessions. First, I’m a movie buff. I admit it. I’m hooked. A good movie is one of my favorite things in life. And second, I love pirate movies. Not just pirates, actually. Pirates, privateers, sea captains…love ‘em. Maybe it’s no coincidence I married a sailor. Something about the lure of the sea gets me every time.

Pirates and privateers throughout history were both feared and celebrated. Jean Lafitte, a hero in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, was a smuggler and pirate (he claimed to be a privateer rather than a pirate, though the American government charged him with piracy). Transforming from pirate to patriot, he offered Andrew Jackson his assistance against the British in exchange for a pardon for his crew in 1814. The National Park Service maintains the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve in southern Louisiana as a lasting tribute to the pirate and patriot’s contributions to our country’s history. Blackbeard, the infamous English pirate captain of Queen Anne’s Revenge, died off the coast of North Carolina in a fierce battle with Royal Navy forces in 1718. Tourist shops in the Outer Banks of North Carolina stock souvenirs with Blackbeard’s name and visage and references to the notorious pirate abound throughout Outer Banks villages nearly four hundred years after his death.

Given the ongoing fascination with pirates and privateers, it’s little wonder Hollywood has used the swashbucklers as subjects for dozens of movies. Of course, the Hollywood pirate is quite a bit more handsome and appealing than I imagine the actual buccaneers really were. I suspect many of them looked a good deal more like Captain Barbossa than Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame.

Speaking of Captain Jack, he’s my all-time favorite Hollywood swashbuckler (big surprise, huh?). Even though he wears more eye makeup than I do, I can’t resist him. Of course, Johnny Depp has a lot to do with that, but the pirate persona in general is so appealing. Who wouldn’t want to be swept off for a few days on a desert island with a man like that? Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan became pirates in their own right, adding to the Hollywood caveat that good pirates are gorgeous and bad pirates are…well, you can figure that one out…

The Princess Bride is another favorite…who can forget The Dread Pirate Roberts? If you’re a classic movie buff, Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood was memorable…Flynn might have been before our time, but on film, he’s still as handsome as ever. Cutthroat Island was much maligned, but Geena Davis’ turn as a daring female pirate was a refreshing change, in my opinion, and Matthew Modine was certainly worth a look or two (or three or four…).

My love of pirate movies partly inspired my Ellora’s Cave debut, Claimed by the Captain, is the story of an American privateer who’s seized his enemy’s daughter as payback for a devastating act that destroyed his family. Here’s a little about the story:

Jason Kane lost everything to one man’s treachery. Thirsting for vengeance, the ruthless privateer abducts Catherine Farrell, daughter of the swindler who destroyed his family. Intending to extract the debt owed him from his tempting prisoner, he plans a cold-blooded conquest. Aroused by his captive’s sensual beauty, he claims her with seductive persuasion. As he plunges her into a world of pleasure, her passionate surrender sparks a deep longing in his heart and soul.

Catherine Farrell lived the sheltered life of a prosperous merchant’s daughter until Captain Jason Kane made her a pawn in his quest for retribution. Claimed by the captain, she finds herself at the mercy of a man who will settle for nothing less than complete domination. His tender mastery awakens Catherine’s passions and stirs her heart. If only she can convince him that love is far more satisfying than sweet revenge.

For an excerpt and to learn more about Claimed by the Captain, please check out the Ellora’s Cave site.

So, what’s your favorite pirate movie? Leave a comment by Friday, August 5 for a chance to win a free e-book of Claimed by the Captain.

After you’ve done that, please stop by my website, http://www.tarakingston.com/. Leave a comment there (again, by August 5) for another chance to win. I’m on Twitter and Facebook. Hope to see you there!


Tara said...

So glad to be here today, Eliza! Thanks for having me.


Anonymous said...

Love me some pirates!
Great post, Tara!!

Clarissa Southwick said...

What a great story tradition. I would love to read Claimed by the Captain. Please count me in on the drawing.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Yes, those pirates are a classic bunch, aren't they?! I am still holding my breath hoping Gerard Butler might show up on a ship as a swashbuckler... :)

I do remember Errol Flynn in his pirate glory - some of us remember those days of lots of pirates. I wish they would come back along with some of those great westerns. Like my husband says - when men were men and ships were made of wood.

Tara said...

Oooh, Gerard Butler as a pirate...I think I have palpitations!

Tara said...

Thanks for stopping by today...


Anonymous said...

Hi Tara!
I, too, write about pirates. I'm fascinated by them!

I LOVE Captain Jack and all his antics. I watch Errol Flynn, too. I think one of my favorite pirate movies is The Buccaneer's Girl with Yvonne De Carlo. Oh, and I love Against All Flags with Errol Flynn and Maureen O'Hara.


Tara said...

I need to check those out...love classic movies!


Cindy Vallar said...

Hi Tara,

Interesting column. Just the other day I was watching again, The Buccaneer starring Yul Brynner (Jean Laffite) and Charleton Heston (Andrew Jackson) in their defense against the British during the Battle of New Orleans.

Best of luck with your writing, and should your readers want to know the real story about these rogues, I invite them to visit my website, Pirates and Privateers, at http://www.cindyvallar.com/pirates.html

Fair winds and following seas,
aka The Pirate Lady

Tara said...

Hi Cindy...I took your class on the age of sail a few years ago...great class! You truly are the "Pirate Lady".


Raymund Hensley said...

Favorite part from Princess Bride:

Vizzini: Jump in after her!
Inigo Montoya: I don't swim
Fezzik: I only dog paddle.
Vizzini: AGGHH!