The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Piratesby Peter T. Leeson
Pub. Date: 03/31/2009
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Pack your cutlass and blunderbussit's time to go a-pirating! The Invisible Hook takes readers inside the wily world of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century pirates. With swashbuckling irreverence and devilish wit, Peter Leeson uncovers the hidden economics behind pirates' notorious, entertaining, and sometimes downright shocking behavior. Why did pirates fly flags of Skull & Bones? Why did they create a "pirate code"? Were pirates really ferocious madmen? And what made them so successful? The Invisible Hook uses economics to examine these and other infamous aspects of piracy. Leeson argues that the pirate customs we know and love resulted from pirates responding rationally to prevailing economic conditions in the pursuit of profits.
The Invisible Hook looks at legendary pirate captains like Blackbeard, Black Bart Roberts, and Calico Jack Rackam, and shows how pirates' search for plunder led them to pioneer remarkable and forward-thinking practices. Pirates understood the advantages of constitutional democracya model they adopted more than fifty years before the United States did so. Pirates also initiated an early system of workers' compensation, regulated drinking and smoking, and in some cases practiced racial tolerance and equality. Leeson contends that pirates exemplified the virtues of vicetheir self-seeking interests generated socially desirable effects and their greedy criminality secured social order. Pirates proved that anarchy could be organized.
Revealing the democratic and economic forces propelling history's most colorful criminals, The Invisible Hook establishes pirates' trailblazing relevance to the contemporary world.
- Princeton University Press
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Table of ContentsList of Illustrations xi
Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
Chapter 1: The Invisible Hook 1
Chapter 2: Vote for Blackbeard
The Economics of Pirate Democracy 23
Chapter 3: An-arrgh-chy
The Economics of the Pirate Code 45
Chapter 4: Skull & Bones
The Economics of the Jolly Roger 82
Chapter 5: Walk the Plank
The Economics of Pirate Torture 107
Chapter 6: Pressing Pegleg
The Economics of Pirate Conscription 134
Chapter 7: Equal Pay for Equal Prey
The Economics of Pirate Tolerance 156
Chapter 8: The Secrets of Pirate Management 176
Epilogue: Omnipresent Economics 194
Postscript: You Can't Keep a Sea Dog Down The Fall and Rise of Piracy 197
Where This Book Found Its Buried Treasure A Note on Sources 207
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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An entertaining read, even if based on a very limited and suspect data base for an economist! As a big bonus, the work serves as the perfect playbook for the TV series Black Sails.