By Gilbert Cruz
Updated April 13, 2007 04:00 AM
Empire of Blue Water

Though there’s no tentacle-faced Davy Jones in Empire of Blue Water, Stephan Talty’s vigorous history of 17th-century pirates of the Caribbean will sate even fickle Jack Sparrow fans. Jamaica’s Port Royal (”the wickedest city in the New World”) and England’s fearsome captain Henry Morgan (who considered himself a gentleman soldier) both get star billing. While Talty’s prose flourishes during the multiple, breathtaking battle scenes, he also sheds light on the particulars of pirating — ”a uniquely democratic institution” that offered hazard pay and a primitive form of health insurance. A pleasure to read from bow to stern. A