Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, vessels used for piracy are pirate ships. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilisations. Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy.
Pirates are a now frequent topic in fiction and, in their Caribbean incarnation, are associated with certain stereotypical manners of speaking and dress, some of them wholly fictional: "nearly all our notions of their behavior come from the golden age of fictional piracy, which reached its zenith in 1881 with the appearance of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island." Hugely influential in shaping the popular conception of pirates, Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates, published in London in 1724, is the prime source for the biographies of many well known pirates of the Golden Age. The book gives an almost mythical status to pirates, with naval historian David Cordingly writing: "it has been said, and there seems no reason to question this, that Captain Johnson created the modern conception of pirates."
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