Today you can just hop on a plane and be on another continent within a day's time. But a century ago the only way to get from one continent to another was by sea--and the journey took months or even years.
The ocean was the world's highway, and ships brimming with precious cargoes plied the waters. These merchant ships were tempting targets for pirates, who prowled the seas' major trade routes in search of treasure. Ever since the first oceangoing ships set sail centuries ago, pirates have been capturing ships and pillaging coastlines. In some parts of the world, piracy continues today.
Meet William Dampier: A Most Unusual Pirate
William who? Like most people, you may never have heard of this restless, curious Englishman. But William Dampier was famous in his own time and influenced some of the world's greatest scientists, explorers, and writers.
Dampier was a pirate. But he definitely wasn't your typical pirate. Like most pirates, he was motivated partly by the desire for material gain. But Dampier also had an insatiable hunger to see and describe what was then a little-known world. He journeyed around the world three times, visited places few people had ever been, and kept a detailed journal of what he saw. He published his observations in his best-selling books. And he left his own unique mark on the Golden Age of Piracy.