At the Point of a Cutlass The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton

by Gregory N. Flemming

At the Point of a Cutlass The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton Synopsis

A handful of sea stories define the American maritime narrative. Stories of whaling, fishing, exploration, naval adventure, and piracy have always captured our imaginations, and the most colorful of these are the tales of piracy. Called America's real-life Robinson Crusoe, the true story of Philip Ashton-a nineteen-year-old fisherman captured by pirates, impressed as a crewman, subjected to torture and hardship, who eventually escaped and lived as a castaway and scavenger on a deserted island in the Caribbean-was at one time as well known as the tales of Cooper, Hawthorne, and Defoe. Based on a rare copy of Ashton's 1725 account, Gregory N. Flemming's vivid portrait recounts this maritime world during the golden age of piracy. Fishing vessels and merchantmen plied the coastal waters and crisscrossed the Atlantic and Caribbean. It was a hard, dangerous life, made more so by both the depredations and temptations of piracy. Chased by the British Royal Navy, blown out of the water or summarily hung when caught, pirate captains such as Edward Low kidnapped, cajoled, beat, and bribed men like Ashton into the rich-but also vile, brutal, and often short-life of the pirate. In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick, At the Point of a Cutlass expands on a lost classic narrative of America and the sea, and brings to life a forgotten world of ships and men on both sides of maritime law.

At the Point of a Cutlass The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton Press Reviews

Flemming relates the story of the capture by pirates of Philip Ashton in 1722, and in the process he reveals a fascinating history of pirates during the first decades of the 18th century, the golden age of piracy. . . . From battles with warships to the way the pirates split their plunder, Flemming's focus on individual actors adds a welcome depth to the history of piracy with this engaging and harrowing account of 'America's real-life Robinson Crusoe.' -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) Ashton's account of his travails, published in 1725, became a hit in Colonial New England. Now forgotten, his story is brought back to life by Gregory N. Flemming in his fine new book, At the Point of a Cutlass. Beautifully printed and bound--though it could use more maps--the book delivers blood-thirsty pirates and plenty of action and excitement on the high seas. Forgoing an 'avast ye swabbies!' approach, Flemming's sober style and scholarly approach ballast his account and keep his story on a steady course. -- Boston Globe Paints an indelible picture of pirate life, day by day... compelling, dramatic reading. -- Dallas Morning News [A] real-life historical thriller. -- The Week, The Best of U.S. and International Media

Book Information

ISBN: 9781611685152
Publication date: 3rd July 2014
Author: Gregory N. Flemming
Publisher: University Press of New England
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 256 pages
Categories: Biography: general,

About Gregory N. Flemming

GREGORY N. FLEMMING is a former journalist who holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives with his family in New England. His website is

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