Pirates: A New History, from Vikings to Somali Raiders

Pirates: A New History, from Vikings to Somali Raiders

by Peter Lehr


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A global account of pirates and their modus operandi from the middle ages to the present day

In the twenty-first century piracy has regained a central place in Western culture, thanks to a surprising combination of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as well as the dramatic rise of modern-day piracy around Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

In this global history of the phenomenon, maritime terrorism and piracy expert Peter Lehr casts fresh light on pirates. Ranging from the Vikings and Wako pirates in the Middle Ages to modern day Somali pirates, Lehr delves deep into what motivates pirates and how they operate. He also illuminates the state’s role in the development of piracy throughout history: from privateers sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth to pirates operating off the coast of Africa taking the law into their own hands. After exploring the structural failures which create fertile ground for pirate activities, Lehr evaluates the success of counter-piracy efforts—and the reasons behind its failures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300180749
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 07/16/2019
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 392,839
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Peter Lehr is a lecturer in terrorism studies at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is the author of Counter-Terrorism Technologies and editor of Violence at Sea: Piracy in the Age of Global Terrorism. He lives in Fife, Scotland.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations vii

Introduction: The Sudden Return of Piracy 1

Part I Distinct Regions, AD 700 to 1500 9

Joining the Wicked Order

God Wills It

Turning a Blind Eye

There Was No Choice

Spotting Ships at Sea

Overwhelming the Prey

Raiding the Coasts

Pirate Violence

Efforts to End Piracy on Land

Efforts to End Piracy at Sea

Hunting Pirates

Attacking Pirate Bases

Part II The Rise of European Sea Power, 1500 to 1914 63

Seeking a Merry Life and a Short One

Tars, Gents and Traders

Piracy Brings No Disgrace

The Lure of Easy Money

Pirate Ports

The Pirate Queen and her Courtiers

Raffish Instruments of Foreign Policy

Acquiring a Suitable Vessel Stalking and Capturing the Prey

Desperate Battles at Sea

High-End Piracy

Whoring, Drinking and Gambling

Typical Ends of Pirate Careers

The Pitfalls of Co-opting Former Pirates

Hunting the Hunters

Anti-Piracy Alliances

The Apparent Demise of Piracy

Part III A Globalised World, 1914 to the Present 145

They Were Rich, We Were Poor

The Winds of Change

Modern Enabling Environments

A New Raffish Instrument

The Modern Pirate Fleet

Guise and Guile in Modern Times

Shock and Awe Today

The 'Uniquely Violent Nature' of Nigerian Piracy

Modern Pirates' Modus Operandi

Modern Variants of the Merry Life

Piracy and the Law

Citadels and Robot Ships

Hunting Pirates at Sea

Counter-Measures on Pirate Shores

Conclusion: Back with a Vengeance 209

Glossary 219

Endnotes 224

Bibliography 237

Index 256

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