Benerson Little

“The trident of Neptune is the scepter of the world.”*

Book Covers & Links

Extensive notes, remarks, and errata for the titles immediately above and below may be found on the books' respective pages.

* By Antoine Marin Lemierre, from his poem "Commerce." (Le trident de Neptune est le sceptre du monde.)

Book Links:
Descriptions & Reviews

Historical Fiction

Details to follow.

Narrative Maritime History

Formerly The Great Pirate Legends Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About History's Most Notorious Pirates. The truth behind the great pirate myths and legends. Hopefully forthcoming soon. See the book's webpage for details.

Maritime History

To really understand what the pirate's world was like: how buccaneers lived, fought, and died.

A colorful and detailed description of how pirates and privateers practiced their trade.



"With his latest exploration of the phenomenon of piracy Benerson Little has established himself as perhaps the foremost authority and scholar in the field."
—Frank Sherry, author of Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

"Little, a former Navy SEAL and maritime practitioner...has become a leading chronicler of the annals of piracy..."
—Nikolas K. Gvosdev in History: Reviews of New Books

Benerson Little is the author of four non-fiction books on piracy and sea roving, with a fifth, exploding many of the myths and misconceptions associated with pirates and piracy, in his agent's hands. He is considered a leading expert on piracy past and present, and is the historical consultant for Black Sails, a STARZ Original Series. Fortune's Whelp, a novel, is forthcoming.

Books, Articles, and Other Media


Historical fiction, details to follow!

THE GOLDEN AGE OF PIRACY: The Truth Behind the Myths

The truth behind the great pirate myths and legends of the Golden Age from 1655-1725.

Search no farther for the truth about those gentlemen of fortune! Though clearly based on fact, the present-day image of the pirate is shrouded in hearsay and fanciful fabrications, derived from sensationalist histories, romantic novels, and swashbuckling movies.

In this book, popular piratical misconceptions are dashed, widely held notions disproved, fabled events revealed as outrageous inventions. In the process, Little fashions a series of spellbinding sagas more intriguing and shocking than any salty yarn spun by novelist, poet, or screenwriter.

Hopefully forthcoming. The original publisher cancelled its entire history line just as this book was going to press. I've since then revised it significantly and hope to have a publisher soon. See the book's webpage for details.

The Stories, Techniques, and Tactics of the Most Feared Sea Rovers from 1500-1800

"The author’s background as a former Navy SEAL, his study of black-powder weaponry, his experience as a fencing instructor, and his study of primary evidence make him eminently qualified to write this book."
—Cindy Vallar, of Pirates and Privateers, The History of Maritime Piracy

Pirates occupy a prominent place in the popular imagination, yet seem to have sprouted from history already larger than life, their true personalities, origins, and objectives obscured by myth and fantasy. Moreover, their military acumen is seldom discussed in conventional histories, and the real reasons for their successes and failures are therefore poorly understood. In this fascinating survey of thirteen of the most famous buccaneers, author and former U.S. Navy SEAL Benerson Little employs his direct experience of seafaring and naval combat tactics to highlight the ingenuity of many of the pirates' campaigns—and those conducted against them.

In print, trade paper and ebooks.

The Fight Against Pirates, Privateers, and Sea Raiders from Antiquity to the Present

To catch a predator—on the high seas.

For thousands of years pirates, privateers, and sea raiding peoples have terrorized the ocean voyager and coastal inhabitant, plundering ship and shore with impunity. From the victim’s point of view, these attackers were not the rebellious, romantic rulers of Neptune’s Realm, but savage beasts to be excoriated, and those who went to sea to stop them were heroes.

More than just a vivid account of the war seafarers and pirates have waged, Pirate Hunting is invaluable reading in a world where acts of piracy are once more a significant threat to maritime commerce and voyagers. It will appeal to readers interested in the history of piracy, anti-piracy operations, and in maritime, naval, and military history worldwide.

In print, hardcover and ebooks. Signed copies of Pirate Hunting are available from the author, $25 including shipping within the US.

Pirate Life on the Spanish Main, 1674-1688

To really understand what the buccaneers' world was like—how they lived, fought, and died.

“A richly hued blend of compelling narrative and informed history, The Buccaneer’s Realm captures the dramatic sunset of buccaneering on the Spanish Main. With meticulous documentation, wry humor, and keen attention to detail, Benerson Little accurately portrays the last hurrah of the Brethren of the Coast—a free-minded floating society of patriotic mercenaries and self-serving rogues, accomplished sailors, and intrepid adventurers—before their final eclipse into unmitigated piracy.”
—Peter R. Galvin, associate professor of geography at Indiana University Southeast and author of Patterns of Pillage: A Geography of Caribbean-based Piracy in Spanish America, 1536–1718

"The Buccaneer's Realm holds up well against Little's previous work, making two-for-two books that are truly must-haves for any true pirate scholar.", July 2008

In print, ebooks. Hardcover edition is out of print.

Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730

"As colorful as a Howard Pyle illustration and as compelling as an Errol Flynn film, The Sea Rover’s Practice belongs on anyone’s short list of useful scholarship on the great age of piracy. Based largely on first-person accounts, the book provides a trustworthy description of how pirates, filibusters, buccaneers, and privateers went about their business, from planning and recruiting, through chasing, engaging, and boarding, to dividing the spoils. The reader, entertained as well as informed, is likely to have nearly as much fun reading this book as the author appears to have had in writing it."
—Michael J. Crawford, naval historian and editor of The Autobiography of a Yankee Mariner: Christopher Prince and the American Revolution.

". . . .rich in colourful detail, and displays impressive knowledge of sailing and fighting skills."
The Naval Review

In print, trade paper and ebooks. Hardcover edition is out of print.

Magazine & Journal Articles On the Subject of Piracy and Swordplay

"Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?" on the Under the Black Flag website. A brief article debunking popular myths about pirates and eye patches.

"Eyewitness Images of Buccaneers and Their Vessels," in The Mariner's Mirror, August 2012. Overlooked eyewitness images of late 17th century buccaneers, perhaps the only eyewitness images in existence of Golden Age sea rovers.

Forthcoming, "Pirate Daughters: In Film and History," in Pirates Magazine, Issue 15, Summer 2011. Or maybe summer 2012?

"In Defense of Alexandre Exquemelin: The Original and Eternal Buccaneer-Author," in Pirates Magazine, Issue 14, May 2011.

"The Black Fencer in Western Swordplay," in American Fencing magazine, vol. 61, no. 1, Spring 2011.

"How to Live Like a Pirate--Without the Murder and Mayhem," in Interesting Times #6, February 2011.

"The Language of Pirates, Real and Imagined," in Pirates Magazine, Issue 13, November 2010.

"Terrorists and Pirates Are Similar But Not the Same," in Piracy on the High Seas, Gale Cengage, 2010. Hardcover and paper editions available. Table of contents link. Originally published on http:/​/​​, a website covering public diplomacy.

"The Origin of the Dread Pirate Banner: the Jolly Roger," in Pirates Magazine," Issue 12, April 2010.

"Scimitars, Swivel Guns, & Firepots: Digging for Pirates in Denmark," part two, No Quarter Given, July/​August 2008 (vol. 15, no. 4).

"Scimitars, Swivel Guns, & Firepots: Digging for Pirates in Denmark," part one, No Quarter Given, May/​June 2008 (vol. 15, no. 3).

"Tidewater Places and Pirates: A Visit to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown," No Quarter Given, May/​June 2006 (vol. 13, no. 3).

"A Brief Note on Powder Chests," No Quarter Given, January 2006 (Vol. 12, no. 6).

"Close Fights at Sea: Boarding Ship-to-Ship 1630-1730," No Quarter Given, September 2005 (vol. 12, no. 5).

Historical Consulting

Historical Consultant to the Starz Network's Black Sails cable television series, 2012-present.

Provided technical assistance to the "Pirate versus Knight" episode of Spike TV's "Deadliest Warriors" series November-December 2008.

Provided assistance and appeared in the "Terror in the Mediterranean" episode and DVD of the History Channel "Digging for the Truth" series, 2007.

Provided assistance and appeared as a piracy expert on "True Caribbean Pirates" television show and DVD, History Channel, 2006.

Lectures & Talks on Piracy

Answered questions for sixteen hours for a reddit "Ask Historians" AMA on "Piracy from Antiquity to the Present," June 5, 2013.

Lectured at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul on June 28, on the subject of "Hollywood and Pirates: Truth Versus Legend." The lecture was part of a series associated with the Whyday /​ National Geographic "Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship."

Lectured on "Pirate Boarding Tactics: Hollywood Versus Reality" on September 17, 2011 at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park during Tiger Lee's "Hot Pirate Babes Calendar /​ Talk Like a Pirate Day" weekend in St. Augustine.

Appeared on three discussion panels during during CombatCon 2011 in Las Vegas, June 24-27: "Boarding Tactics and Techniques for the Golden Age of Sail," "Weapons and Wounds [in Western martial arts]," and "Deadliest Warrior: Behind the Scenes."

Spoke on the subject of piracy as a business model to the Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville on November 10, 2010.

Lectured on "Piracy as a Business Enterprise" (and for a few minutes on piracy in general) for the Huntsville Affiliate of the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) on February 11, 2010.

Lectured on "Piracy from Antiquity to the Present Day" on February 3, 2010, at the University of Alabama in Huntsville Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Spoke on the subject of piracy in general on November 19 in Huntsville, Alabama at J H Partners, an architecture firm with the excellent, even Renaissance, habit of inviting speakers not in any way associated with the firm's business or purpose.

Lectured on piracy past and present at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, September 2009, the lecture was video-taped and is online via St. Lucie County Television (SLCTV), Florida.

Appeared on the "Murderous Queens, A Lost Continent, & Swashbuckling Pirates: Truth & Fiction in History" panel with authors David King, Robert A. Prather, and Robert McCammon at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival, April 19, 2008.

Television Appearances

Taped an Alabama Detours episode produced by WUVA of the University of Alabama and directed by Rhys Butler, to air 2014: Benerson Little Pirate Historian.

Appeared on several STARZ preview shows and videos in 2013 and 2014, including The Take, episodes 108 and 109, on the subject of piracy past and present, in regard to the film Captain Phillips and the forthcoming Black Sails series, as well as Black Sails: An Inside Look and a few trivia videos as well.

Subject matter expert and commentator in the "Terror in the Mediterranean" episode and DVD of the History Channel "Digging for the Truth" series, 2007.

Commentator on "True Caribbean Pirates" television show and DVD, History Channel, 2006.

Miscellaneous Assistance

Worked with Denmark’s Medieval Center on explosives and pyrotechnics used during the Age of Sail. (2007-2008)

Provided expertise on sea survival during the Age of Sail for the book The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: History by Joshua Piven et al. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006.)

Provided occasional technical assistance on various projects in the works.

Interviews (other than noted above)

Interviewed for No'Ala Huntsville magazine Nov-Dec 2013, as part of a feature on the Huntsville Fencing Club.

Interviewed for al.Com and The Huntsville Times in September 2013 as part of three short articles on the subject of piracy and treasure in Alabama, and on pirate language: "Arrr there pirate tales from Alabama?", "Aye! Alabama is booty-licious...", and Avast, me hearties! by Kelly Kazek.

Author interview, mostly fencing-related, on the Cs Vintage Co e-magazine website, 2013.

Author interview posted on the Under the Black Flag website, 2013.

Interviewed as part of an article on the Huntsville Fencing Club in The Huntsville Times, March 22, 2010 by Mary Anne Swanstrom.

Interviewed as part of an article on the Huntsville Fencing Club in The Huntsville Times, October 4, 2007 by Ann Marie Martin.

Author interview in a The Huntsville Times article, September 20, 2007, by Ann Marie Martin.