4130 Six loaded pistols dangled from his shoulder sling. Beneath a cocked fur cap, lighted candles sprouted from a bramble of whiskers the color of midnight. And the eyes. Wild, fierce, and malevolent, they haunted the memories of those few who were lucky enough to survive their piercing gaze.

Of all the colorful cutthroats who scoured the seas in search of plunder during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early eighteenth century, none was more ferocious or notorious than Blackbeard (who probably went by the name of Edward Teach). Nearly three centuries after his death his name is still synonymous with piracy. Not content with becoming the scourge of the Caribbean, this brutal and fearless hell-raiser then sailed north to strike terror in the hearts of American colonists from New York to the Carolinas.

As unforgettable as his savage career was, much of Blackbeard's life has been shrouded in mystery—until now. Who was this remarkable sea dog? Did he hail from Bristol, in England, or were his roots in colonial America? How did he rise from being an ordinary seaman to become the archetypal pirate? At a time when captured pirates were either hanged by the cartload or offered full pardons by colonial governors if they surrendered, what gave Blackbeard the audacity to blockade the port of Charleston, South Carolina, and remain defiant to the last?

Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate traces Teach's career from the time he went to sea to his final defeat in a tremendous sea battle near his base at Ocracoke Island. Pirate expert Angus Konstam follows in Blackbeard's bloody wake through the Caribbean and describes his encounters with many others in the trade, especially at Benjamin Hornigold's "pirate school" in the Bahamas. He also reveals how Teach assembled the most powerful pirate fleet of his day and examines his fateful alliance with the "gentleman pirate" Stede Bonnet.

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    Angus Konstam has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates. A former naval officer and museum professional, he is an expert on weapons, shipwrecks, and piracy who has advised several underwater archaeological groups (including the team working on Blackbeard's sunken flagship). He is the author of the forthcoming Sovereigns of the Sea: The Quest to Build the Perfect Renaissance Battleship. 336 pages paperback