Cover image for Terror of the Spanish Main : Sir Henry Morgan and his buccaneers
Terror of the Spanish Main : Sir Henry Morgan and his buccaneers
Marrin, Albert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [1999]

Physical Description:
240 pages : illustrations maps, portraits ; 24 cm
An account of the life and times of the English buccaneer, Henry Morgan, from his birth in Wales through his daring exploits in the Spanish Main to his later years in Jamaica.
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.4 9.0 28227.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.5 13 Quiz: 19669 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F2161.M83 M37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Henry Morgan, who was born in Wales in 1635 and died in Port Royal, Jamaica, in 1688, was an unusual sort of leader. Inspiring the respect and admiration of his fellows, he led them to undertake daring raids on Spain's possessions in the New World; yet he commanded neither an army nor a navy. Nor was he a political ruler, although his exploits affected the power politics of Europe and earned him a knighthood. In plain language, Henry Morgan was a leader of thieves, a ?prince? among a group of outcasts, desperadoes, and failed gentlemen known as buccaneers.Though movies and novels have romanticized them, the buccaneers were in fact a ruthless group who got their way by brutal means. Their motives were pure self-interest, yet they operated with the permission of certain European nations in order to break the Spanish monopoly in the West Indies. Vividly outlining the political and economic circumstances that allowed the buccaneers to flourish, and freshly evoking both life at sea and life in the colonies in the seventeenth century, Albert Marrin shows how Henry Morgan was a particular response to forces that are still with us. War, poverty, greed, bigotry, and oppression play themselves out, albeit differently, in our lives today.Albert Marrin is the chairman of the history department at Yeshiva University, and he has written many award-winning nonfiction books for young adults, including Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War (Dutton).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. With exploding Spanish galleons and bloody hand-to-hand combat, Marrin, the author of Empires Lost and Won (1997), offers another look into the past that virtually leaps off the page. Because nothing is known about Henry Morgan's early years, Marrin begins his account by re-creating the brutal world Morgan probably grew up in. But this imagined backdrop is soon replaced by the facts of Morgan's career as England's cutlass-for-hire in an on-again, off-again war with Spain. Working out of Jamaica, Morgan wreaked havoc on Spanish colonies as the leader of a band of murderous cutthroats who burned villages and plundered everything they could find. Marrin does a top-notch job of bringing that setting to life, describing colonial life in all its grit and glory. Occasionally, Marrin seems about to fall under the romantic spell of buccaneer lore, but each time he catches himself and reminds readers what vile men "the buccaneers and their `cousins' the pirates" really were. Extensive notes; bibliography. --Randy Meyer

Publisher's Weekly Review

While debunking romantic myths and misconceptions, Marrin (Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War) ably proves fact stranger than fiction in his portrait of the legendary buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688). Supported by meticulous research, Marrin paints buccaneers as outcasts and thieves with little to lose who brutally and violently plundered Spanish ships and colonies in the 17th century. Henry Morgan, the son of a "middling" Welsh farmer, sought adventure at sea and became the leader of these bandits; he was knighted by King Charles II of England for thwarting Spain's interests in the New World. Marrin details the economic and political factors that contributed to the rise of the buccaneers as well as the social climate, including religious beliefs, standards of cleanliness, threat of vermin and violent forms of torture. With candor, Marrin explains what's missing from historical accounts as well as his own conclusions when faced with such gaps. For example, speculating on Morgan's passage to America, he writes, "Through their writings [other 17th-century sailors who made the journey], and with a little imagination, we can join them on a `typical' Atlantic crossing." A thorough "Notes" section references his abundant sources. Although Marrin's often gory account is not for the weak of stomach, most readers will find this gripping and complex historical drama impossible to put down. Ages 11-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-Fascinating in its details and extremely readable, this book is hard to put down. In telling Morgan's story, Marrin reaches far beyond the buccaneer's exciting exploits, spinning a rip-roaring yarn of life in the age of exploration, beginning with Columbus's return from the New World and ending with the Jamaican earthquake of 1692 that unearthed Morgan's coffin, sending it out to sea. The writing is lively and the colorful primary-source quotations are almost pungent with the spice of the tropical-island air. The book is most interesting when the author steps aside momentarily to let the memoir of some forgotten sailor speak for itself on the subject of discipline, personal hygiene, or the danger of fires at sea. Through this accumulation of telling details (life in an English village; life aboard a ship; the clothing, weapons, and social manners of the world of the 1600s), Marrin has constructed an extremely compelling narrative and created a useful resource on life during this period. Engaging black-and-white etchings and line drawings give not only a picture of the historical figures and events (buccaneers plundering Panama, pirates boarding a vessel, the beheading of King Charles), but also offer a taste of the 17th-century imagination (a sea-monster attacking a ship). Each illustration is accompanied by a helpful caption. For the period, the people, and the way they lived, this is an essential volume.-Herman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.