Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Pirates and Publicists

“Would you like to do an online interview for your blog?”  “Can we interest you in a review copy for your blog?” Somebody takes webstats seriously, because unsolicited queries from digital publicists for new books have become more common in the past year or so here. 
I tend to decline these invitations a lot. They are scattershot: most concern books and topics pretty remote from the interests of this blog.  But I admire the effort. I cannot help noticing that the approaches are entirely from American publishers and publicists. Canadian history books are pretty much all we cover here, but I don’t think I have ever had an unsolicited approach from a Canadian publisher or publicist.
Recently, I declined an offer of a review copy of Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the 17th Century Mediterranean by the British writer Adrian Tinniswood. I do have a certain weakness for pirate history, but it really is not on my blog’s turf, I said.  I’ll send you a copy anyway, no obligations, replied Heidi Richter of the Penguin Group USA.  There it was, by UPS a day or so later.
See, it works, Heidi.  I’ve been reading Pirates of Barbary. It’s less about Barbary and its pirates than about Englishmen and other Europeans who fought them, joined them, or were plundered and captured by them over the years, but it’s still an lively read about Europe and western North Africa in the 1600s, and it’s not without its parallels to the Somali coast piracy of recent years.  Possible Canadian relevance too: as Tinniswood notes, the reach of the Barbary pirates extended to Newfoundland.
Tinniswood is a prolific writer on English heritage and recently the biographer of the aristocratic Verney family, one of whose 17th century scions turned pirate and converted to Islam – hence this book’s inspiration.  His website is here. Pirates of Barbary is coming out in paper and ebook from Penguin’s Riverhead imprint this month.
[Note to publicists -- we do book notes more than book reviews here, so we don't need copies of books much, but we are glad to hear of new work of interest to Canadian history.] 
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