Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Break Up Of The Beatles

No other rock group has had a greater influence on popular culture than The Beatles. The band--comprised of members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr--made 14 studio albums in what is a relatively short recording career of 7 years ('64-'70).

When The Beatles exploded on the scene in the early sixties, a type of mania spread across England and America, and it was exponential, spreading like wildfire... 

Had The Beatles remained the 'pop band' they were in the early sixties throughout their entire career, they may not be quite so revered as they are today. But instead, they did what all truly great bands do, they expanded their sound and constantly explored music in a way that ignited a passion and love among their fans that no other band has been able to match. That is why, when The Beatles broke up in 1970, it was like a crushing blow to the fans of the band, as if a loved one had died.
Beatles fans are not just young people; people of all ages enjoy their music. The reason for their widespread appeal is not easy to pinpoint, but they are often praised not only for their music, but for the message it delivers. The band's lyrics have always centered around the themes of peace, love and understanding: All are concepts that people tend to cling to in a violent and turbulent world that is often on the brink of revolution and change...

As is common among a group of guys who work together for a long period, egos begin to clash and tensions arise. Tension between the band members began in earnest during the studio sessions for their penultimate album, Abbey Road, released in 1969. That was the year that John Lennon married Yoko Ono, a Japanese-born woman who spent most of her adult life in America. After they married, she seemed to become like the 5th Beatle, trying to add her own musical input (mostly through John) to the band, which the other Beatles resented. Ono is often attributed as the catalyst for the band's demise. Yoko had definitely become a strong presence among the band: she was often seen with them in the studio, in several band photographs and even in the music itself, such as 1969's The Ballad of John and Yoko...

Furthermore, each member of the band wanted to flex their creative muscles and craved more room to express themselves musically. John and Paul seemed to get their way most of the time, while George and Ringo's input seemed less valuable. This led to each member quitting at some point, although they were coaxed back, usually by Paul.
On September 20, 1969, Lennon told the other guys in the band, "I'm done. I want a divorce!" He wasn't the first to make such an announcement, but it marked the beginning of the end for the fab four. It wasn't until April 10, 1970 that Paul McCartney announced the break up during a press questionnaire to promote his solo album, McCartney. The significance of the band's break up cannot be understated.
In America, the result led to Beatles fans literally crying in the streets over the news. The result was much the same elsewhere: "England might have been less shocked to find Buckingham Palace transformed into the Royal Arms Motel. A great British institution—and perhaps the Empire's most far-flung export since the Thin Red Line—seemed in peril. From Liverpool to Piccadilly, the cries of anguish rent the air: "The Beatles are dead! (Time, '70)."
For America, it was this event that seemed to mark the direction for music in the seventies. It was only four months into the new decade and The Beatles were done. After this, music seemed to take a new direction, big rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin swept the scene, ushering an era of stadium bands that focused on explosive guitar riffs with a big sound that was intended to be played live. That had been the original intent of Let It Be, the last Beatles album. The band wanted it to have a live, raw sound. Instead, their manager, Phil Spector, decided to modify and clean up the music for a more polished sound, even adding orchestral arrangement to some tracks. He did all this without the bands consent. Perhaps the new sound of the 70's was an unconscious, collective drive to fulfill that effort, to expand upon it... to continue where The Beatles had left off.
The point is that The Beatles broke up and the whole rock industry shifted. What they left behind was their massive influence. Additionally, the seventies marked the decade of the solo Beatles. Each member of the band spent the seventies creating their own music, finally expressing that musical creativity that each of them felt was being oppressed as a Beatles member.
Finally, let's go back to May, 1970. On the 8th of that month, 4 weeks after the break up announcement, the album Let It Be was released. The first single from the album was the title track. Because Let it Be was the first post-Beatles song to be released, it has a kind of sad and somber tone that really has nothing to do with the lyrics, but everything to do with the break up of the band.

The Beatles were dead, and Let It Be was their requiem...

  1. The Beatles Break Up (A Rare Documentary).
  2. The Beatles - Revolution (HD).
  3. The Beatles - The Ballad of John and Yoko.
  4. The Beatles Let It Be (Digital remaster 2009) [High definition] HD.
  5. Beatles - Coming to America!
  6. Beatles, The. The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books. San Francisco, 2000.
  7. TIME magazine. Music: Hello, Goodbye, Hello. April 20, 1970.
  8. Rolling Stone. Beatles Splitting? Maybe, Says John. Jan 21, 1970 (p. 7).
  9. Rolling Stone. The Trouble with the Beatles. July 9, 1970 (p.12).
  10. Miles, Barry. Hippie. Break Up of The Beatles. Sterling Publishing Company. New York, 2004.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mad Season

Beyond the walls of chaos,
Far beyond the human touch,
There is a silence where no life can exist.
The enemy dwells there,
To harvest its power
And make itself strong.

Rise now,
Begin your day in darkness.
We are vampires:
Awake all night, asleep all day,
Avoid the sun, it burns flesh away,
Fires burn constant, except in acid rain.

Rolling hills of dead earth,
Ghost world, desert planet.

Winding ditches of extinct rivers,
Dead and decaying trees,
The dead hills roll on for miles.

Our day begins.
The streets are filling up.
The buscars begin to roll by.
We exit acid stained buildings and
Step on to the broken sidewalk.
A smell of sickness greets us.

The children no longer play in the streets,
There are diseases there, strangers to meet.
Life is a dungeon where we worship and pray,
The lamp fires burn, artificial day.
Our lives aren’t empty, but void of play.

The mistakes of our ancestors envelop us.
The decay of progress surrounds us.
We live in the ruins of irresponsibility,
I can hardly breathe, this smog is killing me.
We’re trapped in our lives, no turning back,
We call these the dark years,
Seasons of Black.

Black streets of temptation,
False elation.
The secrets of night are revealed
To those who dare step within its maze.
Step within, number your days.
Step inside a dark world where laws
Are meaningless,
And trust is sacred.

Our numbers are massive;
Too many to count,
Like grains of sand.
The true friends you find here
You can count on one hand.

Hollow souls without a home:
Ghouls and demons,
Con men and women of deadly beauty.
So many eyes of certain distrust.

Bloody, crowded streets wet with red rain,
Laced with pain.

It always seems to grow colder and colder
When you’re always looking over your shoulder.

The city streets take you in;
She is a city, faceless beholder.
She is silent and without control.
To speak to strangers is a foolish move;
We must remain nameless,
Minds without a face,
Too easily erased.
Like hatching eggs, conformity cracks.
In these small hours existence is black.
This is the place
Where morality bends.
This is the tomb
Where all life ends.

How can the newsmen tell you lies
And play with your minds in verbal disguise?
It is hard to tell if what they’re reporting is true
When their speech is filtered before it reaches you.

Send your men from the machine
To capture those whose speech is free.
At the mercy of the machine
That sees your flesh as bills of green.

In the streets of the pitch black night,
Events occur that the masses never know.
The machine knows all but obscures our sight.
Only darkness exists when they eclipse the light.

They can censor our thoughts
By censoring our speech;
Sucking us dry like a hungry leech.

Society falls in the course of a day,
All is black and we are afraid.

Many don’t fit the mold in the eyes of the Czar.
At the mercy of the machine we are.

Within the walls of chaos,
We work to weaken the machine,
To crush the skulls of its suited rats:
Agents of a new world order built on
Control and domination.
Its nature has been revealed to us:
True power is in numbers.

Fear of the beast
In cold prison cells.
Beyond these walls,
We can hear the sounds of the greatest war
The world has ever seen.
We can hear the chaotic pounding of
One hundred million stampeding feet.
We can hear the outside world exploding around us
And we know,
Regardless of whether this new world order
Marches on or falls,
All we’ve ever known is gone forever
In the pages of the past.
Like an iron ball to the bricks,
Our world has been relentlessly smashed.

The war march ends and
We are freed from our prisons…
And we step outside to a ruined world…

The broken skyline is a shadow of the past.
The houses of God,
Shattered stone temples,
Are now the brothels of human demons
With aspirations to be the devil’s destructor,
Instead of his thrall.
Such a day would be the death of us all.

And will we live on? Will we remain?
How much more are we able to take?

This land is beyond salvation,
Far beyond a colossal jail,
Far beyond the pale.

Can you smell the poison in the air?
The silent apocalypse waiting to wake itself?
The black, progressive horror that has been
Cocooned for so long, slowly cracking,
Its surface steadily chipping away?
We don’t know what hides within,
But it is dark and hideous.
It is the end of all we know,
And it is slowly rising.
It has been feeding off the chaos
That man has created.
We gave birth to it,
We fed it and helped it to grow.
Now it is ready to emerge,
Now it is ready to bite that hand that feeds it…

The new season is hot with chaos,
The days are hotter than ever before,
Our endurance is slowly decreasing during these
Hot, feverish months.
The Earth’s skin has shriveled and cracked
Under the heat of the fiery sky.
The weaker ones could not survive and
Fell into oblivion,
To the darkest fathoms of the human heart;
The heart of nothingness,
Mortal hell.

The hottest day of the year,
The flesh and the devil touch for a brief moment;
The kiss of death and the wild beast
Born in the bloody dirt.
Its vampyre like tongue lapping up the fresh, red puddles
Before they can be hardened by the
Smoldering heat of the unforgiving day.

They say the sun shines brightest
right before the storm.
And the darkest part of the human heart
Collects in the heavens.
A dark overcast stretches out above us,
Blotting out the sun.
Its black eye looms in the center.
We emerge from our homes and stare in
Hopeless terror as its belly cracks open and
A calm madness seeps out.

The demon comes in the wind,
Howling at us with ardent ferocity and such force that
The ground trembles and tears apart,
Opening great canyons beneath our feet,
Swallowing entire cities.

The Demons are in Heaven,
The Gods are in Hell.
O, Beasts and Devils,
Creatures of the dark,
Keep away!
We must run while we still have land
To press our feet into.
We do not wish escape
To the fathoms below.

Death has no meaning in the embers
Of the pale fire.
The dwindling fires reveal nothing
Of what existed just days ago.

Many small moments I lie still,
Believing myself to be dead.
But in uncertain movements
I open my eyes and sit up.
Unexpectedly, a mutated wing
Brushes my ear and I turn to see
A vulture perched on the broken wall
I’m leaning against,
Screaming harshly in its primitive speech.
I slap it away-
Be gone, scavenger,
Fly back to the pits.

I begin to notice the others,
Knowing they are confused like myself.
Their heads swirl about
And they wonder if this is Earth or Hell,
The end or just the beginning.
I slowly brush away the dirt in my eyes
And allow my vision to clear.
My movements are slow and tedious,
And the others seem to be a dozen and a dozen more mirrors
Of my own movement, my own confusion.
We have become a giant blemish upon the center
Of the dying heart,
The failed God.
* * *
We are slow, like mutants.
And weak, like insects to men.
We sit upon our broken thrones
Of fallen kith and kin,
Within the shattered temples of our dead Gods.
We are too lost to mourn.
We still live and it means nothing.
It is worse that we have been spared death
And we envy the dead.

"Join us again,
Rise from the dead like Lazarus.
Stir the winds and
Rise from dust."
"No, grant us peaceful slumber,
The grave is still the best shelter
Against the storms of destiny."

I like to tell rhapsodic, old tales
Of the prime season, the peaceful men,
The last of what we understand.

Squatting in the dust, I spin my new yarn,
Dust and dirt blowing in my eyes.
With every word, minor fractions of
Strangers and friends enter my mouth
And come to rest upon my tongue.
Later, we fall to sleep,
Retiring to our endless dreams,
Opening an occasional eye
And shutting it just as quickly
So as to return to sleep;
To wash away the blood in the garden
(the blood in our minds).
Where there is Hell,
There is no time.

We wake up constantly from dreams of
Peaceful slumber in a ray of sunshine,
Only to open our eyes to a black dawn.
To a world where there are no believers,
Where there is no god,
Where there are no rules or laws.
Only the paramount psychopaths:
The mutated ones, slow but massive.
Huge, deformed beast-men who believe
They were made to rule.
But such a concept has no meaning.
Such things don’t matter any longer,
It seems that nothing does…

And the mad season rolls on,
Year upon year,
Madness upon madness.
Our creation.
Our Hell.
Our road to nowhere but the end.
Man has destroyed God and taken his place.
New religions have been created,
New myths have been invented,
New laws have replaced the old.
But many of us just can’t follow
These surrogate Gods.
How did we fall under their rule
And become slaves to monsters?

We can no longer obey.

The time has come for it to end,
The time has come for the beasts to fall.
We must fight to reclaim our lives,
Or else we won’t have lives at all.

The great battle begins tonight,
We fight and bleed and kill and die.
At last we gain our freedom back,
And raise our weapons to the sky.

We drop our weapons to the ground,
On twisted corpses and bloodied flesh.
We celebrate for the very last time,
And forget for a while that we are next.

We are the last of wisdom left.
We are all that is light,
Lost in darkness.
Fallen descendants of a land
That has been forgotten in the fire that burned so high
That the sky was obscured.
We mourned the blue of the sky,
The blue spark in a child’s eye
Obscured by tears.

We are the last,
No offspring to sing our traditional songs:
Songs of joy when the world was
Young and free,
When we were sure our race was eternal.
What a sweet occasion.
What divine nights we had.
What sacred words we could speak
Freely and openly for all to hear.
But now the flame
Is a spark in the darkness,
Nothing more.

We are the last.
We are the embers of a wild fire.
Slowly we sink into the mire.
We try to hold on
To what‘s left of our lives.
Our plates are empty
And our glasses are dry.
The great feast is over,
And we die…

…These shattered temples,
Standing amidst this desert land.
Archaic symbols of our deity,
When our time was at hand.

These shattered temples,
Born from a time when humanity reigned.
Now this land is dead and silent,
But these shattered temples remain…

In nomine Patris,
et Filii,
et Spiritus Sancti.


We thought that all was lost and dead,
As dead as us.
But these temples,
These broken, decrepit temples,
Housed something incredible:

The time has come for greater things,
To open a world to boundless dreams.
The time is now.
An hour before nightfall,
A day before time.
Give forth your adorations,
Your petty needs and great hopes
Which we replaced with
Greater needs,
Greater hopes.

A whole new dawn,
A Garden of Eden.
No more exile,
No fear in the palace of light.
Night never falls,
It exists past the horizon
Upon another plane,
At the palace of residual,
The palace of pain.

Let me fall far beyond
This darkness where sadness sings.
The time has come for greater things.

Taken from Clockwork by Geoffrey Foster, 2009. To learn more about this book and others, you can visit my website at

War Without End (Or Why We Never Should Have Invaded Iraq)

In former President Bush‘s address to a joint session of Congress in 2001, he said,  “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.“ It is exactly this type of “black-and-white ideology” that led to the decision to declare this war-a war that should have never have occurred in the first place. Of course, there are people that believe otherwise, and their points of view are valid. However, I believe that the war in Iraq was the wrong decision, and for many reasons. To be more concise, there are two main factors that gave rise to this belief: one, the war was initiated under false pretenses, and two, our military focus is in the wrong place.

    The lies of the U.S. Government led many to believe that The Iraq War was not only inevitable, but absolutely necessary. A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
    According to a 2008 article on Yahoo News, “Great controversy emerged when no stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction were found, leading to accusations that the United States, its President George W. Bush in particular, had deliberately inflated intelligence or lied about Iraq's weapons in order to justify an invasion of the country. The Center for Public Integrity asserted President Bush's administration made a total of 935 false statements between 2001 and 2003 about Iraq's alleged threat to the United States.“    

    The government also said that the decision to strike Iraq was made because it was the heart of terrorism in the Middle East. The reasonable argument was, why tap the vein when we could puncture the heart? Well, because we don’t have a large enough needle. It has been ten years now, and terrorism still runs rampant throughout the Middle East. In addition, I believe this was a war for oil. If we could make Iraq a democracy (not likely), oil would be cheaper and easier to obtain. Or so they tell us. Also,  I think the war is a cover for gaining a controlling interest in oil since the transition to democracy would be orchestrated with the help of the U.S. government. Not to mention that Bush ran the war (and his administration) with “cowboy politics” , which was his personal ideology of “action first, thought second.” This is an unrealistic black-and-white attitude that is too absolute to be logical in the real world. The world is not black or white, but varied shades of gray.

    Secondly, I believe our military focus is in the wrong place. Very quickly, Bush seemed to target Iraq as the reason for all the terrorism in the world. The only thing is that this seemed to be the military response to Al-Qaeda’s attack on New York City. Sure, he sent troops into Afghanistan to root-out Bin Laden, but the biggest focus had been on Iraq and Hussein, who has no discernable connection to Al-Qaeda (a claim the government made, but could not back up). Although Hussein was a tyrannical dictator who needed to be stopped, he did not directly harm America the way Al-Qaeda did, and all the terrorism that went on there was mostly inner terrorism--i.e., violence contained within the Middle East. The real threat is Al-Qaeda. They hate America and clearly have the intelligence to launch a massive attack from within our borders. Bush wanted to hit terrorism at its heart, but even if the objectives in Iraq were to succeed, Al-Qaeda is not in Iraq. Even if they had been, they are not anymore. So, if the enemy runs, the tactic should be to follow. Even a child of five knows the “follow the bad guy” tactic. But no, we stayed in Iraq. Even if we did achieve “victory” there, we will not have achieved victory over Al-Qaeda. Despite the fact that Bin Laden has since been killed, his terrorist organization is still strong. In fact, the murder of Bin Laden has apparently strengthened their resolve and  rekindled their hate of America. The only thing we will have gained from an Iraq victory is cheaper oil, and maybe a little help in the search for Al-Qaeda. But they will still be out there, they will still hate us, and we will likely be in such dire straits in terms of our economy, it would actually be an ideal moment for them to launch another attack against us. That’s because we will be weak, vulnerable, and even less prepared for an attack than we were on 9/11. Although President Obama seems to be shifting focus away from Iraq, we still have troops there. It almost seems like this war will never end.
     Is all of this because our former president had something to prove? Or because he wanted to succeed where his father had failed? Who can say? The Iraq War has done nothing but damage our economy and cost us the lives of nearly 4,500 soldiers ( It’s time for it to end. It’s time to put the focus where it belongs, on the real threat: an international terrorist organization with the ways and means to initiate large-scale attacks on its enemies. If we keep our eyes on the prize, perhaps we can eventually bring down the beast; but we can’t do it in Iraq, and we can’t do it alone. And most of all, we can’t expect to do it at the cost of our damaged economy.


Silverstein, Ken. (2007). The Al Qaeda Clubhouse: Members Lacking (Harper's Magazine).Retrieved from (2011).

Transcript of President Bush’s Address (2001). Retrieved June 2, 2010 from
QUOTE: “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.“

Weapons of Mass Destruction and Other Lies (2008). Retrieved June 2, 2010 from
QUOTE: “Great controversy emerged when no stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction were found, leading to accusations that the United States, its President George W. Bush in particular, had deliberately inflated intelligence or lied about Iraq's weapons in order to justify an invasion of the country. The Center for Public Integrity asserted President Bush's administration made a total of 935 false statements between 2001 and 2003 about Iraq's alleged threat to the United States.“

Associated Press (2008). Study: Bush led U.S. to War on ‘False Pretenses’. Retrieved June 2, 2010 from
QUOTE: A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The Ethics of Human Cloning

Human reproductive cloning is the creation of a genetically identical human being, or individual parts of said human, such as organs or tissue.
    Those who are against human cloning believe that it is unethical because it is, in effect, playing god. Pope Benedict XVI, the papal leader of The Roman Catholic Church, has condemned cloning, stating that it is a "grave offense to the dignity of that person as well as to the fundamental equality of all people." There are also issues of whether clones will have the same equal rights as naturally born humans, and the fact that certain embryos (in which the cloning process begins) are created for research purposes and promptly destroyed when the research concludes.
    Many people believe that cloning is beneficial to mankind. Cloning of organs and tissues can save lives and cure many diseases. Not to mention that cloning of body parts could restore missing limbs or replace faulty body parts, essentially curing blindness, deafness, etc. Another benefit is it can create a child for an infertile couple.
    My beliefs fall somewhere in the middle. I do not think that human cloning is unethical, but it does need to be monitored in some way. Limits must be placed on what scientists can and cannot do. First of all, there is a variety of ways that human cloning can be taken too far. Such as creating clones to serve as worker bees. I’m sure if they were government created, the government would claim ownership of them. After all, the government claims ownership of any man or woman who serves in the military--they are considered property of the U.S. Government. Conceivably, the government could go a step further and create genetically superior human beings for the purpose of warfare.
    So cloning should be policed, and limited to the creation of individual parts of the human, rather than an entire human being. As for infertile couples who want a cloned child, it is hard to allow such a thing to occur without sparking debate as to how far full human cloning should be taken. What is the limit? Anyone can argue that if a child can be cloned for an infertile couple, that other complete clones should also be allowed.
    Of course, these are advances that we have not yet mastered - even animal cloning fails most of the time. When it was announced that Dolly, the first mammal cloned from adult DNA, was created, most people were not aware that her creation was the only success among 275 failures. Those that are successfully cloned generally have a number of health issues. Dolly only lived to be half as old as most sheep of the same breed.
    But if the cloning of an entire human becomes allowed, there should be no question about their rights. Regardless of their origins, they are still human beings, and deserve to be given the same rights as any other human.


Phil for Humanity


Human Genome Project Information

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Worlds of Wonder: How to Design a Fantasy World

When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, he brought to life a richly detailed fantasy world. Designing a world from scratch is no easy task; it takes times and patience. It can also be very enjoyable if you know the process. To write a fantasy story, you first have to create a world for it to take place in. This requires three basic steps: designing the world, creating its inhabitants, and developing it societies.

Designing your World

The first step is to design the world itself. To begin with, you will need to decide on the ratio between the land and the oceans. Oceans are generally massive bodies of water that separate continents, while seas are smaller bodies of water that are near certain lands. Bays and gulfs are typically bodies of water sounded by land on two or three sides, like the Gulf of Mexico. Map out your continents and be sure not to devote more space to land than water.
Next, you must place your lakes and rivers. Place the lakes on the terrain first, and make sure that a river feeds into and out of it. Most rivers flow downhill, i.e., from north to south, though is not always the case. The New River in West Virginia actually flows north.
Once this is complete, place hills and mountains on your land. Mountains should run parallel to a coastline, regardless of how far inland they are. Small hills or foothills generally precede mountain ranges, but they don’t have to. You may also place some of your ranges around your rivers. It is common for valleys to be shaped by the path of the river that flows through it. Try not to go overboard when positioning mountains near rivers because that is where most cities will eventually be placed.
Next, you will want to place your forests, deserts, swamps, and arctic lands. Forests generally cover a generous portion of a world not yet encumbered by heavy industry. Swamps and marshland are located near a sea or ocean. Deserts are near the equator and arctic land is near the poles. To get an idea of how certain maps should look, do an image search on the internet for fantasy maps, such as middle-earth. 
Map of my fantasy world, Braith.
Now that the land beneath your feet is designed, what do you see when you look above? Cosmology is important because you have to describe what the inhabitants of your world see when they look in the sky. Obviously, they see stars in the night sky, but what else do they see? Is there a moon? Several moons? In my fantasy world, called Braith, there is single forest moon called Keommi. Now consider what your people see in the sky during the day? A single sun, or are there two like the desert planet of Tatooine in Star Wars? Deciding on these factors help to determine the measurement of time because all time scales are based on cosmology. While it might not be necessary to the story, you will want to keep these things in mind. For example, a world with three suns will have different cycles of day and night than a world with just one. You can choose to ignore this rule, because people are more interested in story that cosmological fact checking. However, it can add an interesting element of a story if, for instance, your world has a night that lasts thirty hours. Or thirty days, like in Alaska.

Peopling your World

Now that the world has been designed, it’s time to create people to inhabit it. Like a great number of fantasy stories, you can populate your world with a race of humans. You can also give your world classical fantasy archetypes, such as elves, trolls, goblins, ogres and dwarfs. Or you can create entirely new races. Be creative, but make sure you can justify the race’s existence. In other words, does a being with arms and legs designed for climbing have any business living in a world comprised entirely of plains and grassland? A few other things to consider when creating a race include intelligence, interests, special skills, physicality, and demeanor. Are they savage or refined, good or evil, friendly or aggressive? These factors can also determine their dress and weaponry.
Once you have decided on races, you can further break them down by ethnicity. Everyone on earth is of the human race, but we have many different ethnicities that separate us not only socially, but physically as well. Asians have yellowish skin, slanted eyes, and dark hair. Caucasians have light skin, wide eyes, and angular faces. You can do the same with your races. For example, a race of elves in one area may be tall with short, pointed ears and fair skin, while another type of elf could be much shorter, with dark hair and ears with higher points.
Next, you have to decide what each race’s interests are. What do they do for recreation? Do they like sports, or board games? Do they design sculptures? Do they enjoy drinking? Many of these things will determine details of the society and culture of these people. If you decide that a certain race is adept at building statues and monuments, that will determine their culture ant the appearance of their cities.
After that, you may want to decide the religion of each race. Do they pray to a pantheon of gods like the Greeks and Romans, or is their belief structure monotheistic like Christianity?
Lastly, what kinds of animals roam your world? They will likely be broken down into two categories: wild and domestic. Dragons are popular in fantasy, and they are often wild. You can draw wild animals from popular archetypes as well (such as a griffin or centaur), or you can take ordinary animals and make them huge. Tolkien did this to great effect when he introduced readers to Shelob, an enormous and ancient spider that lives deep within a mountain.
Now it is time to decide on what types of domestic animals inhabit your world. In fantasy, the most popular domestic animal is the horse. Without the horse, our heroes would take forever to get anywhere. Sometimes the races you have created will demand the need for a unique creature. For example, in my world there is a race of warriors called The Fere, who stand seven- to-eight feet tall and weigh in the neighborhood of five-hundred pounds. No horse could carry such a person, so I had to create a creature called a Bharma, which serves as a Feran’s steed.
Once all these elements are in place, you have a strong base on which stable societies can stand.

Developing your World’s Societies

The last step in world design is the aforementioned society. Of course, there would be no society without a government to rule it. Societies often depend greatly on technology. Technology often determines how much power a government wields. For example, the Roman Empire ruled the world because they built roads and sophisticated plumbing systems. Fantasy worlds are usually pre-industrial, with the highest technology being steelmaking. If one society has discovered steelmaking before the rest, they could have very well gained control of the world by strength of the sword. Many nations still in existence today were created in the same fashion. As a world builder, you must also decide what level of weapon technology has been developed. Are weapons made from steel or a lesser metal such as bronze? How advanced is the bow, or siege weapons? You must also decide what kind of machines your people have created. Researchers have only recently discovered that the ancient Greeks developed very sophisticated machines. Modern researchers even had to run several experiments to discover how these machines operated. Do not think that because your fantasy world is pre-industrial that its people cannot invent amazing devices.
Next, you must consider the types of government that rule your different nations. Monarchy and feudalism are the most common forms of government in fantasy. However, there are many more options from which to choose. Do a little research and find out which ones work best.
Now, you must decide on a monetary system. The most common type of currency in fantasy is coins. The type of metal each coin is made of determines its value. Gold is generally the most expensive. Just remember, the rarer the metal, the more it is worth. You can even invent a metal even rarer that gold, if you wish.
Finally, it is time to place your cities and define the borders of your nations. Remember to place most cities near a water source. Cities must have some form of fresh water nearby to facilitate their survival and prevent the spread of disease. Where the city sits determines it subsistence system-i.e., a city’s means of survival. If a city is located in open plains, grazing and farming is that city’s subsistence system. A coastal city will subsist by means of fishing and boating. Cities near a forest will have logging. Cities near the mountains will have mining (these are the people who will mine for metals that become currency, among other things). Cities located near seas in colder climates will have whaling and sealing. Any city by a river will have fishing. The size of the river will determine how fruitful the fishing will be. A city can have as many subsistence systems as the surrounding terrain allows. The more forms of subsistence, the bigger the city will be.
Now that your cities are developed, you will need to insert roads between them. The largest cities will be the ones that sit on main roads, at central locations, or at a crossroads. These areas will likely be major trade routes, especially if they have several subsistence systems. The more business a city gets, the larger it becomes. The size of the city will grow to meet consumer demand.
Lastly, you will have to name your cities. Whatever names you choose, be sure that all the cities of a particular kingdom or nation sound similar. For example, you wouldn’t want to have a city named Woodville located near a city called Hoka-kuru. When it comes to naming cities, the best bet is to get ideas from the names of actual cities or ones from fantasy novels. You can also keep some city names simple. For instance, I have a city located next to a river, so I named it Riverhaven.
Now that you have developed your societies, you must decide what people in them do for a living. You will already have a list for some of these professions because the growth of a society dictates that everyone has some part in its development and ongoing functionality. Most people have a trade in which they serve their function to society. All you have to do is prepare a list of those trades/professions, and where they’re most likely to be performed. Obviously, if your character lives in a port town surrounded by plains, his occupation would not be mining. He could be a farmer or a fisherman. But he could also own a bar, work in the local tannery (always situated on the edge of town because of the smell), be a grocer, or some kind of holy man in a church or similar house of worship. As a side note, in most medieval cities, the church was generally the tallest building and was located in the center for all to see. You might wish to do the same, especially if religion is given great reverence in your world.

Adding The Details

These steps are a good starting point, but you have actually only laid the foundation. Now it is time to build the house. This is the point where you add the details:

Architecture can be based on archaic structures from a number of different cultures. Perhaps you can choose to combine different elements of each. Try using unusual designs and shapes as well. A good starting point is to look at pictures of architecture from all over the world, both past and present.

Tough to do, and not always necessary. Tolkien created an entire Elven language, but he was a linguist. Most writers are not. If you want to play around with this, start by basing your language on actual languages such as Latin. When you create letters for the language, it might be a good idea to base them on sounds rather that equivalent letters of the English alphabet. In other words instead of the letter A equaling (insert character here), perhaps a certain letter in your new language will equal the ch or sh sound.

Like architecture, draw your inspiration from pictures of clothing in different parts of the world, and in different time periods.

For foods, stick with basic meats, fish, fowl, fruits and vegetables. But try to create some of your own as well. You can also name meat that comes from a fantastical creature in your world. Maybe Griffin meat is popular in your world, but it probably wouldn’t be called that. After all, cow meat is not called such, it is called beef. For example, on my world, Bharma meat is called Roce (pronounced rohs).

Very popular in fantasy is the use of magic. You should develop rules for the magic in your world. What kinds of magic are there? Do your research and learn of the different kinds of magic in fantasy and history, then decide what elements to add. What are your magic users called? Wizards? Soothsayers? Do they use wands? Staffs? Spells? There is a wealth of ideas for fantasy magic out there. Just pick out the bits you like and cast aside the rest.

Look at the history of the world and try to find trends that define a moment in time and make it worthy of note. You will want to start by developing a time scale. Perhaps you can start with the year 1, followed by initials such as P.H. (for Pre-History). You will also want to divide your timescale into ages or eras. A new age is usually marked by some kind of great change, such as the fall of a major empire, the end of great war, or the development of a new technology. Your timeline should mention wars, battles, famous people, infamous people, technological developments, or the construction of a monument or world wonder.

Even though a small percentage of these details will actually make into your stories (or novels, more likely), they are still important. As the writer, you must believe fully in your created world as in the real one. If not, it will show in your writing-because if you don't believe in your own creation, your reader won't believe in it either.

Technology: The Fabric that Holds Society Together

Technology is the opiate of the civilized world, no less addictive than tobacco or alcohol. Everyone one has their toys and devices: computers, smart phones, mp3 players, GPS navigation systems. When we walk down the street, somewhere a computer is controlling the stop lights, when we pull our car into a gas station, a computer controls the pumps. Even in the checkout line at our local grocery store our purchases are scanned by computer. But more than this, our government is run by computers: our ships, planes and space shuttles are operated this way. All this technology is great, and it has improved our lives in many ways. Here’s the problem: all these machines and devices cannot be operated if the computer chips that run them should fail. Sure, they can be replaced, but what happens when the electricity fails on a massive scale? These computerized devices need electricity in order to work, and without it, they are rendered useless pieces of hardware. Worse than that, there are no back-up systems in place. All the old devices that did not require computerization have been cast aside. We need to reduce our dependence on technology because the basic function of society is based on the precept that none of these devices will fail-but if they do, modern society will cease to function. We need a contingency plan should the power fail for an extended period of time. We cannot be enslaved to this technology to the point where the loss of it can cause society to fall apart.
    In the event of a blackout, our lives grind to a halt. We worry about our refrigerated foods spoiling. If we have electric stoves, we are unable to cook food. We cannot see without this use of candles or flashlights. Aside from this, we are bored. No TV, no internet, no radio. We cannot leave the house and get in our cars without some form of traffic confusion. We cannot even pump gas because the pumps are controlled by a computer. So, what are we modern folks supposed to do, other than sit in the dark, angry at the local power company? In some cases, people will take advantages of the lack of light and surveillance systems, and riots will break out. That exact thing occurred in New York in July, 1977, when major riots, violence and destruction swept across the city during that 25-hour period.
    Our local stores come to a stop as well. The local bank, for example. Whatever money you have in your account is recorded on a computer screen and is maintained in cyberspace via the bank’s intranet. When the power is out, a teller cannot even open her cash drawer. The same is true for most retail stores. They are all operated by a computer program of some sort, one that is only operational when a computer has power. We cannot even go through a drive through and order food-again, because of the computer issue. No power, no service.
    Local government also freezes in such a situation. Whenever we go to a local agency, such as the social security office or federal building, all these places are comprised of the same thing-desks with computers on them. There is a reason why guys like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are the richest men in the world: there are the creators and designers of programs the world uses in order to function.
    Since technology is completely reliant on electricity, “the big concern is the coming solar flares from the sun that “were so powerful in 1859 that ‘people in the northeastern U.S. could read newspaper print just from the light of the aurora,’ Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said at a geophysics meeting last December” (Lovett 1). The only result was the loss of operating telegraph machines. In Lovett’s article, Baker continues to explain that “electrical disturbances as strong as those that took down the telegraph machines-’the Internet of the era’-would be far more disruptive today” (Lovett 1). The reason for this is rather obvious, but more than just the loss of electricity would also be the loss of satellites. In order for the world to remain connected, we need satellites. Not only does this effect simple transactions like “purchasing a gallon of gas with a credit card, but more complex ones as well. Of particular concern are disruptions to global positioning systems (GPS), which have become ubiquitous in cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles, Baker said. In addition, satellite communications--also essential to many daily activities--would be at risk from solar storms, But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once. The cost of this would be astronomical” (Lovett 2).

    Clearly, the problem is a big one. Of course, there are some who feel that the evidence to support the reoccurrence of such powerful solar flares does not necessarily mean that they will actually  occur. The evidence of the 1859 solar flares is there, but no one truly knows the exact force with which those flares struck, and there is no guarantee that the result would be the same or greater. While this is true, it is important to consider that despite the lack of concrete evidence, it is still a possibility, and we should be prepared to for such a possibility. Because if it can happen, we should be taking steps to continue on afterward with relative ease and functionality. As it currently stands, we have not taken such steps.
    There are other skeptics who might also point out that not everything is stored and done electronically. We still use paper to a great degree and many files and records are still stored in that way--they all have digital duplicates for ease of access, but the original hard copies still exist. While this may be true, these are for mostly contractual and factual purchases. A local bank might have a costumer’s name, information and signature on file, but the person’s assets are still kept electronically--largely because they are constantly changing. Of course they are bank statements which come in paper form, but these are only monthly and will not necessarily provide an accurate statement of a person’s current assets.
    So, even though we are not completely dependent on technology, we are fairly close. Critics of my perspective might point out some weaknesses in my argument, but these weaknesses are rather moot compared to the strengths. As a technologically dependent species, our very way of life is always at risk in some way and we must act fast if we are to continue on as we have. After all, how many typical Americans cook with a wood burning stove? How many of us know the proper method of preserving meats without refrigeration? How many among us can efficiently hunt game with a bow and arrow? Of course, they are people who do know these methods, so they are not completely lost to modern humans, but most of us live in the modern world and are unfamiliar with archaic forms of living. Since we cannot teach every person on Earth these old techniques, we must back up the current technological standards of living by older ones. All the antiquated, less advanced technologies should remain in play in case of a major power loss. Cash registers should have a non-electrical back up register for use in a black out. This should be true for gas pumps as well, we should be able to flip a switch and pump without computer assistance. Most importantly, a bank’s records of a person’s current assets must be printed out every time money is spent or deposited. If we can keep these simple methods of commerce together, that would go long way in keeping things together should the lights go out for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe then, we could continue our lives without disastrous results.


Lovett, Richard A. (2011, March 2). What if the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today? Retrieved from National

McCune, Jenny C. (1998). Technology Dependence. Management review, 10-12.

McGowan, Alan. (1977). The New York Blackout. Environment, 19, 48-49.

Susskind, Charles. (2011). Technology. Retrieved from Grolier Online:

Wohlenberg, Ernest H. (1982). New York Blackout Looting, 1977. Economic Geography, 58, 29-44.

A Brief History of Piracy in the Caribbean

John "Calico Jack" Rackham's flag
The history of piracy dates back more than 3000 years. One of the oldest documents mentioning pirates is an inscription on a clay tablet from 1350 B.C. which briefly refers to unprovoked attacks by ships in the Mediterranean Sea.
    Over the course of the next 1600 years there have been various instances of piracy in ancient Greek texts, the most well known of which is the tyrant Polycrates, who seized control of the city of Samos. Polycrates shared power with his two brothers at the time, but soon after the attack he had them killed, presumably out of greed for complete rule over the fleet. The Greek pirate apparently commanded 100 vessels and committed acts of piracy that made him notorious throughout Greece.
    The most famous pre-cursors to the Caribbean pirates were the Vikings. The Vikings were unique in that they were accomplished navigators and the only people at the time that sailed in the open sea. All other cultures would sail only within sight of land because they didn’t have the expertise for more sophisticated navigation. The Vikings ruled the seas from roughly 800 to 1100 A.D.
    Piracy in the Caribbean began with the Buccaneers in the early 17th century. Buccaneers were mostly runaway sailors and deserters from France and England who made their way to the Caribbean. They learned how to live off the land. They would hunt cattle and pigs and cook strips of the meat on racks called boucans, a method they learned from the local Indians. So they became known as boucaniers. A large number of these men settled on the Island of Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic/Haiti. They sold the jerky to passing ships and sometimes, if they were so inclined, they would steal a ship.
    At the time, several islands in the Caribbean and the Spanish Main were owned solely by Spain. It was a very profitable area of trade among the Spanish nations and garnered the interest of England, Holland and France, who wished to do trade there as well. But the Spanish would not permit it. Such defiance angered the leaders of the other nations and gave rise to a conflict that would last roughly 100 years. It all started with the boucaniers, whose presence had not gone unnoticed by the Spanish. In order to rid Hispaniola of its unwelcome inhabitants, the Spanish killed a huge amount of the animals the boucaniers were living off of with the intention of driving them out. What happened instead was an uprising that England and France would eventually use to their advantage. The boucaniers, in order to earn a living, began robbing and killing Spaniards since they had eliminated their source of food.
    In 1654, Oliver Cromwell, High Lord and Protector of England, set his sights on Hispaniola. 400 miles away, in Portsmouth, England, a fleet was assembled. It consisted of 18 warships, 20 transport vessels and 3000 men.
On Christmas day, 1654, the British force prepared to leave. A young Welsh ensign by the name of Henry Morgan volunteered for service with the fleet. Morgan was a very well connected man. He was the nephew of Edward Morgan, a general in Charles’ Army in France and Thomas Morgan, a General in Cromwell’s army. He had learned from his uncles a great deal about warfare. Morgan would become one of the most famous Privateers in history, known across the Caribbean as The Sword of England.
    It took over a month for the fleet to reach Hispaniola and rough seas caused them to make landfall near Santa Domingo, 25 miles from their intended destination. They traveled through the jungle for 3 days to reach the city. Word had reached Santa Domingo of the invading force. The English army never made it there. They were attacked in the jungle and suffered very heavy losses, forcing them to make a hasty retreat.  Since they couldn’t very well sail all the way back to England and tell them “Sorry, we failed,” They went looking for another city to invade. They found their way to Jamaica, which was not very populated and easy to seize, especially because there was no Spanish presence there. They took residence in Port Royal, which became their base of operations for their campaign against the Spanish territories.
    Word reached Cromwell of the devastating attack at Santa Domingo. It would have been far too expensive for the English to raise another army so they hired the Buccaneers—the English pronunciation of boucaniers—to protect Jamaica from the Spanish and to attack their merchant ships. It was far cheaper for them to hire private ship owners to fight for profit. These men became known as privateers. Privateers needed a license to attack enemy ships in times of war, known as a Letter of Marque. Anything captured from said ships was to be brought back to the governor and distributed among the men involved in the attack. Privateering was little more than thinly veiled piracy. They were no rules of engagement that privateers had to follow. They could attain their treasure however they chose as long as it was brought back to the governor to be counted and divided.
    In 1662, the governor of Jamaica, Sir Thomas Motiford, made Morgan captain of his own ship. By that time Morgan had become known as a fierce warrior and a brilliant commander. He had a talent for leading men and commanding their admiration and respect.
In 1668, Henry Morgan was appointed Admiral and given the command of 15 ships and 500 men. It was not long before Morgan decided it was time to attack the city of Portobello. Unlike the army, participation in any campaign is voluntary, so Morgan had to convince as many ships as he could to join his cause. Portobello was the third largest city in the Caribbean. It was a main treasure port, and it was very heavily fortified and well-manned. It was considered to be impregnable. But Morgan didn’t see it that way, and he managed to convince the fleet that the city could be seized. By that point, Henry Morgan was already well-known, but his attack on Portobello would make him famous.
The attack was very successful and profitable. The fact that the Spanish city was considered impregnable worked in Morgan’s advantage. The attack was not expected and the men guarding the city probably were not accustomed to combat because no one ever dared to attack them before. The Privateers, on the other hand, were professional killers. It was all they did.  Portobello didn’t stand a chance. They went from fort to fort, killing and pillaging, throughout the night. Most men fled at the sight of them. Those who did not were tortured until they revealed the location of their hidden treasure. A common torture method the Buccaneers used was to tie a rope around a man’s genitals, attach it to a pulley and slowly lift the man from the ground until he spoke or his member was torn from his body. Morgan and his privateers are said to have been brutal in their methods and apparently tortured and killed not only men, but women and children. It is unclear if Morgan ordered these things to be done or if the men took it upon themselves to do it. On that, we can never know for sure. When the men reached the final fort, a bloody battle ensued, but Morgan and his army eventually came out victorious. In order to stop the Privateers from burning the city, the Spanish paid them 100,000 pieces of eight.
Later that same year, Morgan set his sights on Panama, the second largest city in the New World and a major treasure port for silver mined in the mountains of South America. He set out with 36 ships and 2000 men.  There was no Panama Canal back then, so the men had to travel for nine days through the jungle to reach the city, battling disease and forced to eat snakes and other undesirable types of meat. They finally made it the city and even though they were out-manned, they managed to sack the city with the mere ferocity of their attack. As Panama burned, the Spaniards were able to sneak out a great deal of the city’s treasure on a ship, making what remained surprisingly small. Once the spoils were split up, the amount each man got was minimal and this sparked rumor that Morgan had taken more than his share.
In 1672, facing accusations of piracy, Morgan was summoned by King Charles II to Whitehall Palace in London. King Charles, convinced that the Spanish had made the accusation to smear Morgan’s name, decided that the Admiral should be commended for his leadership and tactical skills. Henry Morgan was knighted and made Governor of Jamaica. For the next 17 years, he served as Governor until his death in 1688. He died peacefully in his bed at the age of 53.
On September 7, 1701, the turmoil in the Caribbean came to a head and full scale war broke out, pitting the nations of England and Holland against France and Spain. The conflict, which became known as Queen Anne’s War, was a very lucrative time for the Buccaneers. The war raged on for 12 years. Then on April 11, 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed and trade among the four nations was opened.
All of a sudden 40,000 Privateers, who had made a fine living off the conflicts in the Caribbean, were suddenly out of a job. Many of them had spent most of their adult lives as Privateers and didn’t know how to do anything else. What happened next was the greatest explosion of piracy the world has ever seen.
On July 24, 1715, a Spanish fleet of 11 galleons set sail from Havana, Cuba, bound for Spain. The ships were filled to capacity with gold, jewels and 7 million newly minted silver coins. On the 6th day of the journey, the treasure fleet sailed directly into the heart of a powerful hurricane. All 11 ships, unable to withstand the storm, wrecked off the coast of Florida near Palmar de Ayes. Work began quickly to recover the lost treasure.
When word of the wreckage reached Port Royal, Henry Jennings, a former privateer, gathered a crew of 300 men and set sail toward Florida. The Spanish had built a temporary shack, guarded by 60 men, to house the recovered gold, most of which was in fairly shallow water. The attack came in the night. Jennings and his small army raided the camp and eliminated every guard there. The treasure they found consisted of 300,000 pieces of Spanish silver. Jennings and his crew made roughly 10 years worth of their former wages in a single night.
When they reached Jamaica, they were greeted by armed guards. Apparently word had spread of the raid and the men involved in it. The guards told the assembled crew that if they stepped a single foot on Jamaican soil they would be shot. Jennings, not yet deterred, told the guards he had a gift for the Governor and to step aside. The guards repeated their threat, declaring that the crew’s actions were no longer legal. Reluctantly, Jennings set sail looking for a place where they could go without threat. They found their way to Nassau, New Providence which would become the first pirate haven. But Nassau was more than just a pirate haven, it was a town run entirely by pirates.
Jennings, now a wealthy man, retired from piracy and spent the rest of his life living off the fortunes he had stolen from the Spanish. He was the first to turn pirate after the demise of the privateers, but many others would follow in the years to come. The Golden Age of Piracy had begun.
In 1717, the first appearance of ex-privateer Edward Teach appears in official historical documentation. It is hard to trace Teach’s life before 1717 because his real name is unknown.  He is more commonly known as Blackbeard, the most fearsome pirate in the Caribbean.  On November 28, 1717, Blackbeard was the captain of a sloop and was sailing with a second ship. They encountered a French merchantman called The Concorde. The merchant vessel was quickly captured. Teach claimed the vessel as his flagship and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. He then increased the ship’s armament to forty cannons. It was bigger than any other pirate ship at the time. Not long after acquiring his new vessel, he encountered a British merchant vessel called The Great Allen. Blackbeard managed to capture the ship without having to fight. The mere ferocity of his appearance and his methods of intimidation were all it took. Teach was 6’ 4”, with long black hair and a thick beard. Before attacking a ship, he would tuck slow-burning fuses under his hat and light them. So, the people on the other vessel would see this tall man with a mass of black hair coming towards them with smoke wreathed around his face. He was armed to the hilt and screaming like a maniac. He must have looked like the devil himself. The men on the other side of his blade had two choices: surrender or die. Most of them chose the former. The crew of The Great Allen were no different. Teach took the ship and set them adrift.
For all his ferocity, they was one thing that set Teach apart from other sailors of the day: he could read and write and was likely very intelligent. He did very well in a position of leadership. Most ships would go through a dozen or so captains in a period of a couple of years. A pirate ship was run like a democracy--essentially the first democracy of the time. The men chose who their captain would be, so the greatest threat to a captain was an unhappy crew. But Blackbeard’s crew was never unhappy. From November 1717 to May 1718 Blackbeard and his men captured at least 15 ships. He commanded 4 vessels and 400 men. Blackbeard had become the most powerful and feared pirate in the world.
In May of 1718, Blackbeard’s fleet formed a blockade outside Charles Towne, South Carolina. They attacked and plundered any ships that were entering or leaving. He also took several people hostage, holding them for ransom while a group of his men went to collect supplies from the town. The agreement was that once Blackbeard’s men got the supplies the hostages would be set free. Instead of collecting the supplies and coming right back, the pirates got drunk. When Blackbeard’s men did not return at the specified time, he prepared nooses to hang the prisoners. It was then that his men finally returned with the ransom they demanded. The hostages were a bit surprised when it is nothing more than a small chest of medical supplies. Blackbeard needed the supplies to cure several of his crew from disease, which was most likely venereal disease contracted from women in the Bahamas. Blackbeard sent the hostages back to the city completely naked and sailed on.
In June of 1718, Blackbeard led his fleet into Topsail Inlet. As they neared the shore, the Queen Anne’s Revenge violently ran aground, and the hull was shattered. The only thing keeping it afloat was the sandbar beneath. He immediately had all the plunder and supplies on the large ship transferred to one of his other ships, the sloop Adventure. Then he left a large number of his men stranded on the sandbar while he sailed away with his remaining crew. The entire thing was actually deliberate. Blackbeard wanted to downsize a crew that had become too large. He sailed The Adventure to nearby Orcacoke Island and dropped anchor. There is some speculation as to why Blackbeard settled on this island. It was likely one of two things: he wanted to retire, or he wanted to establish a new base.
Word of Blackbeard’s presence reached the ears of Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia. On November 17, 1718, Spotswood sent out two sloops commanded by Captain Robert Maynard  to kill the infamous pirate. On November 22, Blackbeard spotted the sloops at the mouth of the inlet. Blackbeard boarded his ship and lifted the anchor. Apparently, Maynard ordered the men to spread sand on the decks to keep sailors from slipping on the blood he anticipated would be spilt in the battle. Blackbeard was outnumbered 3 to 1, but he had the advantage of cannons. Maynard’s sloops had only what arms the men carried--i.e., pistols and cutlasses. Blackbeard turned his ship and sailed away from the two sloops. Maynard pursued Blackbeard, but he was actually being led. Blackbeard knew those waters well. Maynard’s ship struck a sandbar. Blackbeard turned toward the stuck ship. When he came into range, the cannons fired. As the men reloaded the cannons, the second sloop retreated. The canons fired again and when the smoke cleared, only Maynard was left standing. At the sight of this, Blackbeard and his crew drew near and stormed the  corpse-ridden deck. That’s when the dead bodies on the ship leapt up and attacked the surprised pirates. Maynard’s trap was sprung. During the battle, Blackbeard and Maynard engaged each other. They both drew their pistols and fired. Blackbeard missed. Maynard did not. Amazingly, the bullet did not seem to affect Blackbeard much, and he attacked Maynard with his cutlass. Blackbeard, seeming unaffected by the bullet wound, broke Maynard’s blade in half and closed in for the killing stroke. At that moment, one of Maynard’s crewmen attacked the pirate from behind, striking a mortal blow. Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, the most feared pirate to ever live, died on the deck of Maynard’s sloop. The crew, now leaderless, retreated. Maynard then had Blackbeard’s head chopped off and mounted on the bow sprit as a trophy--and a warning to other pirates.
Around the same time as Blackbeard’s death, a woman named Anne Bonny arrived in the pirate haven of Nassau. Bonny was the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and by most accounts, a beautiful woman. She was apparently sought by all the men in the region. Bonny struck up a conversation with a pirate named John Rackham, also known as Calico Jack for the colorful clothes he often wore.  Bonny quickly became involved with Rackham, despite the fact that she was a married woman. The Governor, hearing news of her infidelity, threatened to have her flogged. In response, Bonny left with Rackham on his ship, becoming the first woman pirate in the Caribbean.
Not long after this, Rackham and his crew attacked a ship and forced the crew to surrender. However, one man refused to drop his sword. Instead of killing him, the pirates tantalized him with the offer to join the crew, which was the most common way pirate crews were formed--recruitment from captured ships. The young man, Mark Read, agreed to join. But before long, Rackham regretted allowing the young man on board when he noticed how friendly he and Anne were becoming. Rackham began to get jealous. As the pair got friendlier, Rackham finally exploded. He drew his pistol on young Mr. Read, threatening to kill him for trying to steal his woman. Read told him to put down his gun.
“I am no threat to you, sir,” Read declared. Then he removed his shirt and exposed his chest, revealing that he was actually a woman. She re-introduced herself to Rackham as Mary Read and covered herself up.
Word spread quickly across the Caribbean of Calico Jack, the man with two women pirates on his ship. This was completely unheard of at the time. Women were not given the same rights as men, but here were two openly female pirates fighting alongside the men as equals.
On October 22, 1720 Rackham and his crew dropped anchor in Dry Harbor Bay, Jamaica. The men stayed below deck and got drunk while Bonny and Read stayed on the deck to keep watch. They were the only sober crew members onboard. Eventually, they spotted a ship approaching. The women quickly roused the men below. The ship set sail as the other vessel drew close. It was clearly a ship of pirate hunters judging by how boldly they approached. The vessel drew closer and the captain asked John to identify himself. Bonny told him to lie. Instead, the drunken pirate boldly responded, “I am John Rackham of Cuba, fight me!”
The other ship opened fire. The battle was short  and ended when a cannon shot shattered the boom of Rackham’s vessel. They were dead in the water. The men knew that they would be boarded soon, so they decided to go below deck again and continue drinking, essentially accepting their fate. The men were captured and sentenced to hang. As Rackham was taken to the gallows, Bonny told him, “Had you fought like a man, Jack, you need not have been hanged like a dog.“
The women went on trial too, but they received a stay of execution because both were pregnant. It is assumed that Bonny was impregnated by Rackham. It is unknown who the father of Read’s baby was, though some have speculated that it was also Rackham.
On April 8, 1720, Mary Read died in prison. It is unclear if she died while giving birth, or if it was from fever. There are no records of Anne Bonny’s fate. After her imprisonment, she simply disappears from all historical records. It has been speculated that her wealthy and influential father may have pulled some strings and sprung her from prison.
In that same year, a pirate vessel in the Atlantic Sea captured a ship and forced a man named Bartholomew Roberts into piracy. Although Roberts initially refused to join, the men did not kill him or set him adrift because he could read and write (and therefore navigate) which were skills greatly sought after on any ship. So they took him by force. Roberts did not fit in with the crew and refused to drink, but he was an excellent sailor and navigator. A month later, when the captain was killed off the west coast of Africa, the veteran pirates voted Bart as their new captain. He accepted. When the crew asked where they were going, Bart said they would avenge the captain’s death. It was a good tactic for gaining the men’s loyalty. They found the men responsible for the captain’s death and exacted their revenge. Not a single crew member died and the plunder they received was ample. Robert’s had the loyalty of the crew then, and no man doubted his ability to lead.
Bart was a little different than other pirates. He never drank alcohol, not even rum. He preferred to drink tea instead. He was also the first pirate captain to hold Sunday services on his ship. It was a strange dichotomy, men who prayed to God on Sunday and committed violent acts of piracy Monday through Saturday.
After Bart avenged the death of his former captain, he set sail for the Caribbean sea. As he journeyed across the Atlantic, they attacked practically every vessel they encountered. In January of 1720, word reached the governors of Martinique and Barbados of Black Bart Roberts and his pirate crew. The governors hired pirate hunters to kill Roberts. By this time, the nations of France, Spain, Holland, and England had become very good at killing pirates. They hanged 200 to 300 pirates every year. But Bart didn’t care and he declared war on the governors.
In 1721, Roberts approaches a French man-of-war with the Governor of Martinique onboard. Bart’s ship was disguised as a merchant vessel. The man-of-war drew near. As soon as they came close enough, Bart raised his Jolly Roger and opened fire.  The French ship was taken easily. The pirates boarded the vessel and seized the governor. Then Roberts fashioned a noose and hanged the governor from the yardarm of his own ship. Roberts declared that he would do the same to the governor of Barbados. However, that never happened, likely because the governor would not be so stupid as to give Black Bart the chance to do the same thing to him.
By the following year, Roberts had become the most successful pirate in history. He had caught roughly 400 ships up to that point. His most recent capture was a vessel called The Neptune, which turned out to be filled with alcohol. On Feb. 10th, 1722 the crew dropped anchor near Cape Lopez, Africa, and proceeded to get extremely drunk. While drinking up the stores of alcohol from the plundered Neptune, they spotted a Royal navy man-of-war approaching. Since the men were drunk and completely unprepared, they scurried below deck to hide. Roberts remained on deck. As the ship drew near, Roberts was sitting astride one of the cannons, aggressively challenging the ship to attack. In response to this, the navy ship fired its cannons. Black Bart Roberts was killed instantly by the blast. The crew honored Roberts request to never let his body be taken. They wrapped his body in cloth, then in chains, and dropped his body in the sea.
Although other pirates came after Roberts, he was the last truly successful pirate in the Caribbean. Essentially, the golden age of piracy died with Black Bart.  The military forces of the four nations had become strong and their numbers overwhelmed the dwindling pirate population.
Piracy in that time period had always represented one thing: freedom. Pirates were men who lived on the fringe of society. They made their own rules. They lived on the sea, and most died there, too. Although piracy still exists today, it has never been as prevalent as in the 18th century.
And it probably never will be again.


“True Caribbean Pirates.” Documentary. The History Channel. 9 July 2006.
Cordingly,  David. Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. New York: Random House, 1996.

Edward Teach (Blackbeard). Fortune City. 6 March 2009.                             <>.

“History of Piracy.” The History Channel. 6 March 2009.                                           <>.