Don’t ask how I could read so many books about pirates, fictional or documentary, without once reading Treasure Island, the most famous work of pirate fiction of all. Stevenson almost single-handedly created what we think of today as pirates. Whatever pirates really were, Long John Silver, with long hair, bandana, a parrot on his shoulder, one leg, walking on crutches, but a salty and cunning conman, is what we think of today. The pirates of Hollywood, the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland, the pirates on Captain Hook’s ship, they all stem from Stevenson’s lore. He introduced treasure maps, buried treasure and gold, wooden legs, eye patches and parrots into our thinking of pirates.
Jim Hawkins, a boy who works in his parent’s inn (think of it as a bed and breakfast) has his life turned upside down when a boarder by the name of Billy Bones arrives. Bill has long hair and pigtails, he sings seamen’s songs, and he has mysterious friends and apparently dangerous enemies. Soon, Jim finds himself on a sea voyage into the West Indies, in search of a treasure.
I didn’t realize that this was a short book — since I read it on Kindle, I can’t tell how many “pages” it was (an interesting side effect of Kindle reading), but I’d guess just 150 to 180 or so. It was half the size of Pirate Latitudes, which I finished just last week.
This is a classic. I am glad I caught up with it and now I know Long John Silver, Dr. Livesey and of course, Jim Hawkins.