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For more than three centuries the Barbary pirates sailed out from their bases in North Africa to ravage the shipping and coastal towns of the Mediterranean and beyond, occasionally getting as far as Iceland and the west of Ireland. Adrian Tinniswood finds that many of the most notable pirates were renegades from northern Europe, trained in the art of marine combat during wartime and cut adrift during periods of peace. ‘Above all, Pirates of Barbary reminds us that history, whatever else it is, is also a genre of literature,’ Ian W. Toll wrote in the New York Times. ‘It always has been, ever since it was first written down by the ancient chroniclers. You can scour it all you like for insights, arguments and conclusions. But it’s still worth reading if only because it’s bloody good entertainment.’o uncertain and so alien that it sets you apart from the rest of mankind.