The Prize Game

Donald A Petrie’s The Prize Game turned out to be a very interesting little book. I’m not linking it here because its out-of-print and I imagine it’d be awfully hard to find, but the ISBN is 1557506698 and it was published by US Naval Institute Press in 1999. Petrie, at least at the time of writing, lived in Wainscott, NY and that’s probably why I was able to find it at Bookhampton in East Hampton some number of years ago. Local author and all that.

Turns out the whole concept of taking prizes in the Age of Sail was a way of warfare that had rules that were followed among many different countries. How different from today’s world, eh? The book talks about these rules and illustrates them by following the adventures of a few successful privateers. The book is heavily footnoted and if you flip to the back and read you’ll find Petrie got a lot of his information from actual ship’s logs from times, as well as from court documents and newspapers. Turns out that prize-taking was followed by the papers almost like a sport would be today.

If you can find it, well worth a read. I’ll be taking good care of my copy for future reference.

On a personal note, it felt good to read some non-technical non-fiction for a change of pace. I’ll have to make a point of doing more of that.

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