Cover image for Hunting pirate heaven : in search of the lost pirate utopias of the Indian Ocean
Hunting pirate heaven : in search of the lost pirate utopias of the Indian Ocean
Rushby, Kevin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Walker & Company, 2003.

Physical Description:
294 pages : maps, ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT468 .R87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A chance meeting on the muddy foreshore of the Thames River launched Kevin Rushby on a voyage to rediscover the lost pirate settlements that once dotted the islands and atolls of the Indian Ocean. Hitching rides on a motley assortment of freighters, dhows, yachts, and fishing smacks, Rushby sailed up the east coast of Africa, then turned east to the islands of Comoros and Madagascar, his ultimate objective being to locate the descendants of the infamous sixteenth-century pirates--such as Captain Misson, the legendary French pirate who may have been dreamed up by Daniel Defoe; English sailor-turnedbuccaneer Thomas White; and Rhode Islander Thomas Tew--who carved kingdoms for themselves in the remote jungles of northeast Madagascar. As he traveled, Rushby met up with the crackpot dreamers, the tough settlers, the fighters and the failures, who live on the coasts and islands now. His is a romantic story in the old-fashioned sense of the word, full of adventure and colorful incident: voyages to islands where forgotten Portuguese forts lie covered in jungle, where some have tried to shoot their way to paradise, and where the ocean can destroy lives and dreams as quickly as men and women create them.

Author Notes

Kevin Rushby has lived and worked in Sudan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Yemen. He is the author of Eating the Flowers of Paradise: A Journey through the Drug Fields of Ethiopia and Yemen, Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the Trail of the Koh-I-Noor Diamond , and Hunting Pirate Heaven: In Search of the Lost Pirate Utopias of the Indian Ocean . He lives in York, England.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Anyone who thought Pirates of the Caribbean was exciting will love this real-life adventure. Traveling on an assortment of vessels, from freighters to fishing boats, the author embarked on a quest of almost epic proportions: to find the old pirate settlements of the Indian Ocean and to track down the descendants of some of the celebrated sixteenth-century pirates (including the possibly fictional Captain Misson, of whom Daniel Defoe wrote). Like Michael Palin's modern-day odysseys, this one boasts lively characters, plenty of local color, and just a hint of danger. The book is a lot of fun, and readers will learn some things, too: the skull and crossbones, the traditional pirate flag according to the movies, wasn't used until about 1700 (most pirates had their own flags, anyway; they didn't all fly the same one). Rushby's account is perfect for armchair travelers, history buffs, and lovers of the kind of excitement that doesn't require one actually to leave the house. --David Pitt Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

As difficult as it is to make a good pirate movie, it's almost as hard to write a good nonfiction book about pirates. Rushby (Children of Kali; Eating the Flowers of Paradise; etc.) has overcome the obstacle most writers on the subject come up against (i.e., the impossible task of separating a few hard grains of truth from the clouds of fantasy and wish-fulfillment that have always surrounded the subject) by simply venturing to the places pirates used to call home and looking around. A rough-and-tumble adventurer who's more than willing to poke fun at his na?vet? and inexperience (despite the long list of adventure travel books to his credit), Rushby journeys to the islands around East Africa and Madagascar in search of the old pirate redoubts once hidden there. He follows pirate legends via a mix-and-match collection of hitched rides and lucky encounters, reveling in the loopy nature of the area's Arab, Indian, French and African cultural cross-pollination. Rushby is affable even in the worst circumstances, which serves him well when he's going clubbing in a dangerous part of Mozambique with a former gunrunner, almost getting marooned by a vengeful Scandinavian or losing his passport on the war-torn isle of Anjouan. The journey is more interesting than the destination, as Rushby doesn't find many pirate remains at all: rumors, some ruins and lots of stories. However, Rushby does present an enthralling guide to a little-visited corner of the world, haunted by the ghosts of its pirate past. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Few can resist a good pirate story, but as Rushby discovers, distinguishing rumor from fact is quite difficult. Armed with a good sense of humor and adventure, the seasoned travel writer (e.g., Children of Kali) hitches rides up the African coast and to the islands of Comoros and Madagascar, areas where legendary pirates were rumored to have settled. Rushby is searching for evidence and descendants of "primitive pirate democracies" in tropical paradise hideaways, but he finds nothing to confirm their existence. All is not lost, however. Rushby offers wonderful stories interlaced with history and a glimpse of African villages steeped in history and beauty. He cannot find evidence that Blackbeard and his contemporaries found paradise, but he can bring to life the African locales that have fascinated us all for centuries. Recommended for public libraries.-Mari Flynn, Glendale Community Coll., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.