Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean (Hardcover)

How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for

By Edward Kritzler

Doubleday, 9780385513982, 336pp.

Publication Date: November 18, 2008

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


At the end of the fifteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition forced many Jews to flee the country. The most adventurous among them took to the high seas as freewheeling outlaws. In ships bearing names such as the Prophet Samuel, Queen Esther, and Shield of Abraham, they attacked and plundered the Spanish fleet while forming alliances with other European powers to ensure the safety of Jews living in hiding.

JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is the entertaining saga of a hidden chapter in Jewish history and of the cruelty, terror, and greed that flourished during the Age of Discovery. Readers will meet such daring figures as “the Great Jewish Pirate” Sinan, Barbarossa’s second-in-command; the pirate rabbi Samuel Palache, who founded Holland's Jewish community; Abraham Cohen Henriques, an arms dealer who used his cunning and economic muscle to find safe havens for other Jews; and his pirate brother Moses, who is credited with the capture of the Spanish silver fleet in 1628--the largest heist in pirate history.

Filled with high-sea adventures—including encounters with Captain Morgan and other legendary pirates—and detailed portraits of cities stacked high with plunder, such as Port Royal, Jamaica, JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN captures a gritty and glorious era of history from an unusual and eye-opening perspective.

About the Author

EDWARD KRITZLER is a historian and a former New York-based reporter. He lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Praise For Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for

"[T]his entertaining and surprising a wide-raging saga filled with attractive and repellant personalities.....Kritzler captures the spirit of that violent, lawless epoch and combines it with an interesting ethnic perspective."

"[A] breezy historical tale....[Kritzler] has a journalist's eye for detail, and his entertaining book will circulate well.
--Library Journal

"Kritzler's intellectual odyssey....shares various sagas of individual Jews who took to the sea as pirates, or masterminded the pirate operations from land....the material is so rich that the book is never boring."
--San Francisco Chronicle

In recent years the study of Caribbean piracy has become an increasingly noteworthy field of endeavor, with new chapters opening constantly. None will be quite so revelatory as Edward Kritzler's JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, for in it he details the story of a small group of Jewish merchants and adventurers who pioneered in the Jamaican pirate trade, and helped to create an outpost of religious freedom at the same time. A wonderful story, never before told."
— Jack Davis, author of The Pirates Laffite

"Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean is a wonderfully informed book of maritime history.  Edward Kristler is a splendid guide on a voyage through a dark and fascinating era of Jewish history."
-- Jay Neugeboren, author of 1940, The Stolen Jew

“Pirate rabbis? Warrior Jews? Sephardic seafarers escaping the fires of Inquisition in quest of gold and freedom in the New World? If, like mine, your knowledge of Europe’s fabled Age of Discovery hasn’t featured these colorful and, as Edward Kritzler’s diligent scholarship demonstrates, historically influential pioneers, then Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean presents a tale as essential as it is entertaining.”
 --Robert H. Patton, author of Patriot Pirates and The Pattons: A Personal History of An American Family

“What a treasure! Ed Kritzler has literally dived the depth of the Caribbean to bring us a well documented book on a hitherto forgotten role of Jews and their involvement in a most unusual occupation in the New World: Piracy.”
--Bernard Diederich, author of Trujillo: Death of a Goat

Using a warm style, Kritzler helps us understand why the pirate era occurred and how the Jews fitted into Caribbean history at that time. He also brings insights to little-understood historical facts, such as what really happened to that famous boatload of Jewish refugees that sailed from Recife to New Amsterdam in 1654; why Jamaica became a haven for Jewish merchants and how this morphed into its development as a center of the pirate trade; as well as the origin of the boucaniers, later known as buccaneers.
--Andree Aelion Brooks, author of The Woman Who Defied Kings and Out of Spain

"Ed Kritzler's book unlocks the long buried Jewish heritage of many famous pirates and their fascinating long forgotten empire building activities. This book is a must read for pirate lovers and history buffs alike."
--Gail Selinger, pirate historian and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates

"Everyone is entitled to her own opinions on the matter but no one has given the subject of Jewish pirates more love and attention than Ed Kritzler. He is the aficionado of Jewish Pirates! Gangway! All Aboard! Onto the gunwales! We're off! What wild adventure!"
--Rachel Frankel, author of Remnant Stones