The books of...

Richard Zacks


Sound of trumpets: TIME magazine selected "Pirate Hunter" as one of the five best non-fiction books of the year; a chat with Don Imus put it to #3 on Amazon; Johnny Depp and his great mascara, fueling a pirate craze, helped it sell more than 150,000 copies. Zacks' books have been translated into Spanish, Finnish, Korean, Japanese and Chinese and were once banned in the state of Georgia.

High brow, low brow, who knows? He's a contrarian historian who tells a good story. Press a book jacket above and go visit the site.

Be warned: the earlier in his career, the higher the sexual content. The New York Times stated in 1994 that the author "specializes in the raunchy and perverse." At the time, he took it as a high compliment. He claims that he has since broadened his horizons.


Richard Zacks (1955-?) was born in Savannah, Georgia but grew up in New York City. He studied Arabic in Cairo, Italian in Perugia, French in the vineyards of France. He was a Classical Greek major at the University of Michigan. He completed  Columbia's School of Journalism and wrote a syndicated column for four years carried by the NY Daily News, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News and many others.He keeps a hole-in-the-wall office in Manhattan and lives just outside the city limits, and he often flies a pirate flag on his 1897 stucco house, just to shake up the neighborhood.

-- His first book,  "History Laid Bare" (HarperCollins, 1994) packed unusual accounts of love and sex from Joan of Arc's virginity tests to Mark Twain on masturbation. Newsweek magazine loved it.

-- His next title, "An Underground Education" (Doubleday, 1997) took the same no-holds-barred approach to research and applied it to Arts, Crime, Medicine, etc. He dug up stories about Edison's electric chair and Lincoln's tentative plan to ship out the freed slaves. A Book-of-the-Month club bestseller, it is still popular a decade later.

-- "Pirate Hunter" (Hyperion, 2002) tells the story of Captain Kidd, who wasn't a central casting pirate but rather a privateer hired to chase pirates. He would duel a true pirate, Robert Culliford, across the oceans of the world. One would hang in the harbor; the other would walk away with the treasure.

  -- "The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines and the Secret Mission of 1805". The U.S. Marines "Gazette" (Hyperion, 2005) for officers raved about it; the author lectured the leathernecks at Camp Lejeune. The NY Times also liked the story, so did the Washington Post and the New Yorker.



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