Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

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Overview

Villains of All Nations explores the Golden Age of Atlantic piracy and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates. Award-winning historian Marcus Rediker focuses on the high-seas drama of 1716-1726, which featured the dreaded black flag, the Jolly Roger; swashbuckling figures such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and the unnamed pegleg pirate who was likely Robert Louis Stevenson's model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island.

This novel exploration shows how sailors emerged from deadly working conditions on merchant and naval ships, turned pirate, and created a starkly different reality aboard their own vessels. At their best, pirates constructed their own distinctive egalitarian society, electing officers, dividing their booty equitably, and maintaining a multinational social order.

This unprecedented social and cultural history proves that the real lives of this motley crew -- which included cross-dressing women, people of color, and the "outcasts of all nations" -- are far more compelling than contemporary myth. Pirates challenged and subverted prevailing conventions of race, class, gender, and nationality, posing a radical democratic challenge to the society they left behind. They dared to play the rebellious villains on a floating international stage. The authorities hanged them for it, but the pirates triumphed in the end, winning the battle for the popular imagination in their own day and in ours.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rediker (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), a historian of maritime labor, opens his immensely readable study of the "golden age" of piracy (1716-1726) with the spectacle of an execution in which a notorious pirate, unrepentant and seemingly unconcerned to be facing death, reties the knot of his gallows noose with defiant ironic humor. For Rediker, pirates were bold subversives who challenged the prevailing social order and empire building of the five main trading nations. Emphasizing the hardship, injustice and brutality the average sailor faced in his career, Rediker suggests that piracy offered a more egalitarian seafaring life, as well as opportunities for revenge on the ruling class. Rediker uses captives' accounts, among other sources, to show how pirates meted out their own system of justice, torturing captains reputed for their harsh treatment of sailors, yet sparing others known for fairness. He explores pirate dialects, rituals and symbols, and shows how pirates inverted social norms, creating a carnivalesque way of life that featured fraternal solidarity, a precapitalist share system and the wanton destruction of property. A chapter on picaresque women pirates reveals links between their iconic image and Delacroix's painting Liberty. Using statistics to show convincingly that by the 1720s piracy posed a real threat to global trade, Rediker describes how nations launched a military-legal campaign against piracy, with cannon battles and gruesome public executions. Rediker uses this apocalyptic close of piracy's golden age to explore its suicidal side. Although Rediker's short study does not tackle later myths of piracy, it provides penetrating background to our enduring cultural fascination with the seafaring outlaws. Illus. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Marcus Rediker knows pirates, and he knows how to tell a story. Villains of All Nations is a must read; don't wait for the movie! -Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807050248
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/15/2004
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcus Rediker is professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and coauthor of The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, which won the International Labor History Association Book Prize in 2001. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is at work on a history of the slave ship.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

1 A Tale of Two Terrors 1
2 The Political Arithmetic of Piracy 19
3 Who Will Go "a Pyrating"? 38
4 "The New Government of the Ship" 60
5 "To Do Justice to Sailors" 83
6 The Women Pirates: Anne Bonny and Mary Read 103
7 "To Extirpate Them Out of the World" 127
8 "Defiance of Death Itself" 148
Conclusion: Blood and Gold 170
Notes 177
Acknowledgments 222
Index 226
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2012

    don't buy the Nook Book!!!

    I bought the Nook version of this book for a school assignment and it's missing FIVE chapters! I went through technical support and they confirmed it is something wrong with the file itself. They refunded my money but now I have to find it elsewhere with limited times as it's for school.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Incomplete!

    HUGE portion of the nook book missing. Do not buy! I bought this title for a class in full faith when the term started and now I have to scramble to get a complete copy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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