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Halsey, John (01 March 1670–1716), privateer and pirate, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Halsey (occupation unknown) and Dinah (maiden name unknown). Born in North America’s principal seaport in a time of naval rivalry and consequent naval warfare, John Halsey is reported to have first gone to sea as a sailor in HMS ...

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Valachi, Joseph (22 September 1904?–03 April 1971), career criminal and Mafia informer, was born Joseph Michael Valachi in New York City, the son of Dominick Valachi, a vegetable peddler and garbage scow laborer, and Marie Casale. Some sources give his year of birth as 1903. One of seventeen children, Valachi grew up in abject poverty in Manhattan’s East Harlem. The Valachi family was so poor that they had to store stacks of stolen coal for winter heat in the filthy room that Valachi slept in, and his mother used old cement bags for sheets. When he was eleven, Valachi was sent to reform school. His formal education ended at that point, and he remained functionally illiterate for most of his life until he made the momentous decision to write his “memoirs,” which became Peter Maas’s famous ...

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You, Dominique (1770–14 November 1830), buccaneer and artillerist, was born either at Port-au-Prince on the island of Santo Domingo, c. 1770, or at St. Jean d’Angély, France, c. 1772. Much of his life is shrouded in mystery, and little is known of his early life. Tradition has it that You was a sailor, possibly in the French navy, and that he served in the French army as an artillerist during the wars of the French Revolution and participated in General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc’s 1802 expedition to Haiti. There is general agreement that he was a skilled professional....