Read Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age by Marcus Rediker Online


Villains of All Nations explores the 'Golden Age' of Atlantic piracy (1716-1726) and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates.Rediker introduces us to the dreaded black flag, the Jolly Roger; swashbuckling figures such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and the unnamed, unlimbed pirate who was likely Robert Louis StevVillains of All Nations explores the 'Golden Age' of Atlantic piracy (1716-1726) and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates.Rediker introduces us to the dreaded black flag, the Jolly Roger; swashbuckling figures such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and the unnamed, unlimbed pirate who was likely Robert Louis Stevenson's model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island.This history shows from the bottom up how sailors emerged from deadly working conditions on merchant and naval ships, turned pirate, and created a starkly different reality aboard their own ships, electing their officers, dividing their booty equitably, and maintaining a multinational social order. 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....

Title : Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780807050248
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 248 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age Reviews

  • Natalie
    2018-10-27 16:26

    This was a purely enjoyable read. Pirates live up to their reputation. There is absolutely some romanticization going on here. Rediker wants to justify a lot about what pirates did, saying it was for noble political reasons. And he provides many illustrative anecdotes that back up what he says. He definitely convinced me, but I still think it's highly probably other barbarities existed that he didn't bother to cover because they might not jive with his narrative. Overall, I continue to think histories like this are just invaluable. The dominant political/economic system would have you believe that it's inevitable, that this is the only way things can be, and that your radical idealistic ideas are silly fantasies. But all of our radical idealistic ideas are actually ancient, and we are just the current generation fighting a battle that has been waged, with varying degrees of success throughout human history. We have alternatives. It's so illustrative to see how previous generations have pursued them. The biggest shortcoming in this book is in his treatment of race. He makes mention that plenty of pirates were Black, and he devotes quite a bit of attention to how pirates interrupted the Atlantic slave trade by capturing slaving vessels. But he completely glosses over the interaction between piracy and slavery. What happened to slave ships captured by pirates? What happened to the slaves in the slaving fortresses pirates burned down? Did pirates interfere with slaving vessels because they were consciously fighting against slavery, or because that was the best loot? When they sank slaving vessels, were there slaves on board? Did they return captured slaves to Africa, or did they continue on and sell them themselves? Rediker just did not even attempt to make all of this clear; a plausible conjecture would be that the answers to these questions did not support his theory of pirates as liberators. I'd love to see sources that address this more particularly.

  • Sarah Jaffe
    2018-10-18 11:18

    sometimes, you just have to read a radical history of pirates. and sometimes it's just what you need.

  • Jerome
    2018-11-03 14:17

    After reading The Many-headed Hydra co-authored by Peter Linebaugh, I picked this book up. Although Rediker follows the same theme as that previous work, the tone of Villains of All Nations is more academic and less overtly political. That's not to say that Rediker does not continue the materialist theme developed in The Many-Headed Hydra, which is that piracy of the 17th & 18th Century was both encouraged by and a reaction against the political and social policies of the Great Powers. The book develops a number of ideas. First, pirates were largely proletariat, reacting to perceived injustices committed against them by the Crown and the merchant class. Piracy represented an escape from bondage (both from poverty and impressment) as well as a means of creating a new egalitarian social order. Pirate society was participatory; their articles had codes for limiting the power of their captains, an equitable system for sharing loot, and even a form of disability insurance. In this, as well as in their decisions to plunder or pass on captured merchant ships, pirates perceived themselves as following a particular (albeit contrary to the larger society) moral code. This moral code has its origin in what pirates consider to be just relations between a merchant captain and crew, but also extends into other realms of just social relations. Rediker devotes a chapter on Anne Read and Mary Bonny to build a modest case for their feminist influence on the larger culture (although he concedes that Victorian attitudes towards femininity during the 19th Century reversed any progress made).Far more interesting is the various interests aligned against piracy. From encouraging piracy during the Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Succession), England devoted more of its resources to expunging pirates to the degree that it interfered with emerging trade interests (by "trade interests" I mean exploitation of natural and human resources). As sugar, slaves, and flour in turn became hot commodities, the war against pirates - who represented the greatest resistance to capital - intensified, until 1726 when piracy was effectively exterminated. This is a great alternative to the Hollywood stereotypes about pirates. Viewed within the larger (and typically cruel) social context, this book serves to humanize those who have historically been demonized, presenting them as sympathetic figures without reducing them to the comical, like more recent films have done. Maybe someday soon the Somali "pirates" will get a similar treatment.

  • Grace Harwood
    2018-11-01 11:06

    What is it about pirates that is so universally appealing to the romantic imagination? One need look no further for the answer to this question than this fabulous book which tells the story of the pirates in the "golden age" of piracy (a brief period from about 1690 to about 1730 or so). The book provides a clear history of piracy on the high seas, with fascinating character outlines and histories provided for all the best-known (and most beloved) pirate figures (think Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, who apparently stuck lit sparklers into his beard and under his hat so that he looked like the Devil himself; Anne Bonny, the Captain Morgan - of the Rum fame I'm assuming - and Mary Read). Despite being - as Rediker makes clear - the first terrorists (before the label had even been invented) these were generally hard-done by chaps, mistreated in the Navy, who had dared to imagine a life of freedom, and, what's more "dared to try to live it." (p. 175).So entertaining - such a good read - and so well-written. If you like historical pirates and tales of rip-roaring adventure on the high seas - this is the book for you.

  • Lauren Albert
    2018-11-01 10:01

    Rediker has an agenda. He wants to show that when the pirates were cruel, it was in revenge for cruelty. What they were is what they were made into by the exploitative economic system they were born into. Perhaps mostly true. But he sometimes over idealizes his subjects who still often tortured sailors and officers to find valuables on the ships. “They transformed harsh discipline into a looser, more libertarian way of running their ship that depended on ‘what Punishment the Captain and Majority of the Company shall think fit.’ They transformed the realities of chronically meager rations into riotous chronic feasting, an exploitative wage relation into a collective risk bearing, and injury and premature death into active health care and security. Their democratic selection of officers stood in stark contrast to the near-dictatorial arrangement of command in the merchant service and the Royal Navy.” 154-5

  • Elen
    2018-11-08 08:08


  • Jillian
    2018-11-02 15:12

    I think this book is probably good if you don't know anything about piracy. This book is written to be readable and yes, informative, but it doesn't present any original research. It's sort of fluffy and shallow. The premise of the book is that the pirates of the 1710s and 20s were working class political rebels who attempted to overthrow an oppressive labor system. It's a nice idea but the evidence is a little spurious, and I think Rediker generalizes too much (painting the entire category of "pirates" with the same brush--removes some individuality/autonomy--surely not every pirate made every decision for the same reason). Rediker relies too much on Charles Johnson for my personal comfort, and his depiction of piracy is pretty romantic and rose-tinted. At this point (2018) this book is over a decade old. I don't think it feels dated, but having read some newer books, I can see big gaps in this one. I ~wonder~ if this book was published to capitalize on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. IMO Rediker's older book Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is superior, even though only one chapter of that book is devoted to piracy.

  • Jeff Mauch
    2018-10-24 08:18

    If you're looking for the romanticized tales of pirates, this isn't the place. This is a more academic, intensely researched broad history of the peak of the pirate age. It's a hard look at the social aspects that led people to pirating as well as the social orders among pirate crews. It's a bit of a dry read at times, but I feel I find pirates even more fascinating now that I've read it. It's incredible the amount we've played up pirates in popular culture, but it makes sense because they and the circumstances that created them are fascinating, even now 300 years after the fact. I'd recommend the book, but know that you're getting into something more akin to reading a textbook that reading Treasure Island.

  • Josiah
    2018-10-28 09:09

    Fascinating history of the age of piracy. Rediker's Marxist perspective leads him to focus more on the positive qualities of the pirates and less on their negative qualities than I would have liked, particularly since Rediker paints the lawful authorities in such a bad light. That being said, the book was illuminating in several ways and there's no questioning the strength of Rediker's research. Presuppositional disagreements aside, this is an excellent book chronicling the social dimensions of piracy.Rating: 4 Stars (Very Good).

  • Jesse Levinson
    2018-10-24 12:15

    Rediker writes an incredibly readable and enjoyable history of Atlantic piracy. He looks at the issue from a radical lens, making a compelling argument that piracy had an anti-capitalist element, which threatened international trade and necessitated brutal and repressive innovations by state actors. It’s a good book that makes examine contemporary issues through a new lens.

  • Mark
    2018-11-07 11:13

    A good social history of the last third or so of the "Golden Age" of Atlantic piracy. Underlines the grievances of common sailors that caused them to "go on the account" and sail under a black flag. Concentrates more on the life stories of ordinary pirates rather than celebrity captains like Blackbeard.

  • Brian
    2018-11-15 11:15

    Although repetitive at times, this is a fantastic introduction to pirates. Just enough information to satisfy without overwhelming.

  • Lionel
    2018-10-28 13:07

    J'ai appris plein de choses très intéressantes, trop bercés par la cultures populaire.

  • Scriptor Ignotus
    2018-10-31 11:25

    This is a fascinating little monograph about the Atlantic Pirates during the "Golden Age" of the 1710s and 1720s. "Atlantic" is the only geographical term that can almost capture the range of piracy that Rediker discusses here. During this period of relative lawlessness on the high seas, pirates operated out of port cities from Boston down through the Carolinas to the Caribbean islands. They also raided the Portuguese slaver fortresses along the west coast of Africa. They established maroon communities everywhere from uninhabited Caribbean islands to the Yucatan peninsula to Madagascar. The end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 marked the beginning of the last great proliferation of Atlantic piracy. It was common practice for the emerging Atlantic powers, like England, France, and the Netherlands, to commission privateers to attack the vessels of the decaying Spanish superpower. Once the war ended, however, many of these privateers decided to go it alone, plundering Spanish shipping and keeping the loot for themselves, rather than passing it on to the European courts. Though initially supported and encouraged by the imperial powers, pirates soon took on their own agenda. Most of them were lower class seamen who had worked on naval or merchant vessels and received deplorable treatment. Well aware of the bleakness and brevity of life at sea in the early eighteenth century, many went a-pirating to spend their short lives with greater autonomy, more equal status with their shipmates, better food, a better share of the booty, and, of course, for adventure. Pirates became "villains of all nations" because they lived for themselves in their own little floating proletarian poleis. They created communities apart from, and in opposition to, the competing imperial powers. They fought under no flag except for their own. Rediker provides a fascinating analysis of how the crews of pirate ships typically governed their affairs while at sea. The captains were elected by the crew, but were given very limited powers that could be mitigated by the quartermaster or revoked by the governing "council" of the ship, of which every crewman was a member. Crews drew up serious constitutions for their ships, and proved remarkably innovative at maintaining a system in which every crew member enjoyed relatively equal status, simultaneously governing and being governed. Pirate crews were often remarkably diverse, with crew members hailing from New England, the Carolinas, the Bahamas, Jamaica, England, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and West Africa (many former slaves served on pirate ships with whites, and they appeared to receive the same treatment). Pirate havens were perhaps some of the most cosmopolitan, multinational, multiethnic societies that existed before the twentieth century. They subverted all the traditional cleavages of authority and nationality. There were also apparently quite a large number of female pirates out there. Many pirate crews had articles forbidding the bringing of women and children on board (as well as laws against sexual assault, interestingly enough), but a number of women not only took to piracy but were apparently quite successful at it. Anne Bonny had a romance with a pirate captain named Jack Rackam, but was disgusted with him when he allowed himself and the crew to be captured without a fight. Later, just before Rackam was to be hanged, Bonny commented that "if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog." That's pretty hardcore. An illustration from Captain Charles Johnson's Historie der Engelsche Zee-Roovers, which depicts a female pirate hoisting a jolly roger over a host of lower-class rabble, may have been the inspiration for Delacroix's famous painting, Liberty Leading the People. The similarities are indeed striking. Thus, the symbol of the female pirate may have given birth to a modern conception of emancipated femininity leading the vanguard of political and societal revolution. To those who worry of having their preconceptions of pirates as rebellious, romantic heroes exploded by reading the findings of authentic historical research about them; don't worry. After reading this book, I have been forced to conclude that pirates are even more cool than I previously thought they were. They were a community of "human waste" that challenged the power structures of their day, and, for a time, succeeded in throwing them off. They should serve as an inspiration for any emancipatory movement of today.

  • Elin Nilsson
    2018-10-25 14:08

    A book retelling the ventures of the real pirates during the golden age of piracy in the early 18th century. I've always had an interest in pirates, and learning more about these people was very interesting to me. Piracy back then was a protest, a revolution, and more of a democracy than the ruling nations. People turned pirate to escape from the horrendous lives of being employed by the merchant navies. I especially, obiously, liked the chapter about female pirates, which talked about the impact they had and how they influenced the women around them, and also how this particular era of time embraced the strong adventurous woman more than the 19th and 20th centuries. All in all an interesting read, only negative I can think of is that it at times felt like reading a university dissertation and not a factual book.

  • Richard Pierce
    2018-11-11 14:14

    If you enjoy movies like 'Pirates of the Caribbean' , you may enjoy this book. The author tells you who the pirates were, what they did, when they did it, where they did it and why they did it. He explains the difference between buccaneers and pirates; the periods of Atlantic piracy from 1650 to 1726; what piracy represents in the context of their political, economic and social circumstances of their day. Author covers the period 1716- 1726 which he calls the most successful period of the time between 1650 -1726; the age of Blackbeard and other famous pirates - but not Jack Sparrow.

  • Caroline
    2018-11-12 16:03

    The fact that he's my professor and his lecture was very interesting doesn't make this book any better....

  • Bill
    2018-11-06 10:26

    Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates of the Golden Age by Marcus Rediker as a maritime history is something of a slightly slanted romantic historical portrayal of pirates as noble, albeit flawed, heroes of the proletariat. The book begins with the July 12, 1726 hanging of pirate William Fly in Boston, for which the infamous Reverend Cotton Mather served as attending clergyman. Rediker attempts to elevate Fly by making him out to be a folk hero fighting a noble but doomed battle against the corrupt establishment as personified by Cotton Mather. In Mather, a controversial and even hated clergyman, who would later defend the verdicts in the infamous Salem witchcraft trials, Rediker makes Mather out to be the religious voice of a repressive Puritan establishment determined to wield its own terror against the piratical reign of terror during the "Golden Age of Piracy." Rediker makes good use of Fly's and Mather's remarks to portray pirates as honest men horribly oppressed and driven to desperation by greedy merchants and cruel ship masters. He says of the men like Fly, "They were poor and in low circumstances, but they expressed high ideals."I very much agree with Rediker about merchant avarice and brutal ship's officers. Until the 20th century, sailors were routinely abused. Indeed, this is still an on-going problem in many parts of the world, particularly in the Pacific. However, defections to pirate crews were not the norm, in spite of the avarice and brutality.Rediker ends his book with the remarks, "These outlaws led audacious, rebellious lives, and we should remember them as long as there are powerful people and oppressive circumstances to be resisted." In reading this book, I did find some interesting research which attempted to describe relationships between pirate crews and even quantified the number of pirates during they early 1700s. A chart showing affiliations among some of the well-known pirates was particularly interesting.However, I did find the glossing over of many of the atrocities committed by "Golden Age" pirates to be very disturbing. Indeed in elevating the likes of Fly to revolutionary heroic stature, Rediker seems to ignore the real men who brought Fly to justice, the sailors Fly impressed from captured vessels. Of these men who rose up and captured Fly, I'd like to re-purpose Rediker's own rhetoric. They were poor sailors and in low circumstances, but they expressed high ideas by being willing to risk their lives to end Fly's reign of terror.Overall, this is a good read, but be mindful of the writer's agenda.

  • Ryan Mishap
    2018-10-18 09:04

    "...damn ye, you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by Laws which rich Men have made for their own Security, for the cowardly Whelps have not the Copurage otherwise to defend what they get by their knavery; but damn ye altogether: Damn them for a Pack of crafty Rascals, and you, who serve them, for a Parcel of hen-hearted Numskuls. They villify us, the Scroundrels do, when there is only this Difference, they rob the Poor under the Cover of Law, forsooth, and we plunder the Rich under the Protection of our own Courage."Charles Bellamy, pirate captain.That pretty much sums up the tack taken by Rediker in this history of the "Golden Age of Piracy"--roughly 1716-1726. When the colonial countries ended their wars and the divisions of the New World were pretty much made, the colonial powers dismissed their privateers--pirates employed by the crown or state to harrow their enemies--as they realized that it didn't pay to hamper anyone's theft of New World resources or the Middle Passage supplying slaves.Yet the wretched conditions of most sailors in service to the new merchant class and their exploitation would drive hundreds and maybe thousands to mutiny or defect and sail under the Black Flag.Rediker divides this Golden Age into three brief eras:1) Rebellion and establishment of near anarchic groups under the pirate flag.2) The flourishing of piracy.3) Brutal repression and the desperate fight for survival by pirates as the violence ratcheted up.There's a lot to admire in this book as it lays out the cruelties of the crown and states without glossing over the acts of pirates. Despite the lefty jargon about dialectics and what-not, the read is also fun. Anyone who has ever thought of pirates as cool because they were rebel outlaws will like this book and the rest of you will at least get a brief history lesson.

  • Francesca Lorenzini
    2018-11-11 08:05

    È ricco di aneddoti e descrizioni originali dell'epoca davvero molto interessanti.

  • Billy Marino
    2018-11-07 13:11

    It took me far too long to read this thanks to some laziness post graduating, but every time I picked it up I was captivated. This is the first book by Rediker that I've read, and it certainly won't be the last. His style of writing is fluid and weaves together historical fact and accuracy with often entrancing story-telling of an obviously interesting topic. After this short book, he has quickly become one of my favorite historians. On to the book itself. The topic was narrowed, focusing mainly on the period between 1716-1726, with only informative tangents into the time prior to help understand some background on the life of privates before the so called "golden age" Rediker focused on. The goal was to help the reader understand how and why the pirate came into existence in such numbers during the early eighteenth century, how they organized themselves in defiance of the ruling classes, and what they have to say about the social discipline and overall culture of the time. All of this was explained efficiently and often times excitingly as he dove into accounts of attacks, mutinies, and speeches at the gallows or on board ships.

  • Josh
    2018-11-08 12:01

    A historical book about the 1720's pirates. Definitely worth a read.The premise of the book boils down to, piracy was mostly a response of normal people against an oppressive society.Sailors lived in a world where their lives were generally hard and short. So when sailors abandoned their post to become pirates, they spent their time indulging in hedonistic life-style that unconsciously suggests their grasp of the dangerous world of seafaring and their short life expectancy.Then, sailors lived in a world where their superiors were often those born of a privileged background. Instead of living in a world based on merit, they were second class citizens. Compare this to a pirate ship where everyone gets an equal vote, and a captain can be anyone who demonstrates leadership. Taking it even a step further, pirate captains only had unquestioned authority in the case of a battle, not in the case of every day affairs. There were also numerous examples of pirate captains being punished for taking a portion of a plunder without approval of a quartermaster or crew.

  • Shaun
    2018-11-04 12:26

    Not so much an account of the exploits of individual pirates or their crews (although full of anecdotes), "Villains" is Rediker's broader analysis of the lifestyle, social structures, and culture of pirates in what he refers to as their "Golden Age". Rediker (who co-authored the highly recommended "Many Headed Hydra" with Peter Linebaugh) delves into the lives of merchant seamen during the early eighteenth century and the reasoning behind their common turn to piracy. The social structure that "freebooters" created on their ships, with it's fluid hierarchies and equalized distribution of wealth, in many ways prefigured what they felt was a just and "honest" society - one that ran counter to their experiences as hired seamen or naval employees. Pirates are all over our popular imagination, and "Villains" puts much of this into an appreciated and well-researched perspective.

  • Alex
    2018-11-02 12:16

    This is a concise, interesting and enjoyable book.It examines the golden decade of piracy (1716-1726), with an emphasis on the customs, beliefs and life conditions of pirate; historical events are briefly summarised to provide context, but their description isn't the focus of this book at all. The author isn't too impartial in his recounts, often skewing over the pirates' crimes and trying to read most of their actions as politically motivated - but he also provides the individual perspective of the average sailor who'd turn pirate, showing how the social and political context impacted his (or her!) everyday life.The book is never too verbose and reads like fiction, thanks to its wide use of fascinating descriptions and interesting anectodes. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in pirates.

  • Mark
    2018-10-20 12:08

    This was another work-related read for me, since I did an article on it because the author is a local professor and we were tying this in to the latest Pirates of the Carribean movie, to show what life was really like for pirates and their pursuers. While it is more in the academic mode, it is well written and very informative. I was struck by what short period was covered by the ascendancy of the Atlantic pirates, whose lives have led to so many fictional tales and common lore. Equally compelling was learning how much the pirate trade was related to brutal treatment of merchant and Royal sailors during this period, and how the pirates own code of conduct had an honor and moral tone to it that might surprise you.

  • Kereesa
    2018-10-23 09:18

    Okay, it did put me to sleep (literally) like five or six times, but this was a really good text overall for understanding the history of pirates. It definitely wasn't as fun as Leeson's Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates, but it provided a much better historical look at Golden Age pirates than the economical lens Leeson wrote about. Even if it did put me to sleep.3.5/5

  • Erok
    2018-11-01 09:05

    i was pretty into this book. rediker portrays pirates in a way that humanizes, them and puts them into the context of the freshly globalized world in a way that anyone can understand why someone would sail under the black flag. he attempted to shed light on the psychology of piracy, and in so doing, used them as an allegory to understand contemporary resistance, and what drives people to resist.

  • Terri Lynn
    2018-10-19 16:09

    My husband had to read this for a history course in pirates and I devoured his texts. Text isn't really appropriate because this isn't a text, just an exciting piece of history nonfiction that shows the reality of pirates which is nothing like the stereotypes from The Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island. Anyone interested in pirates and their real fact-based history will love this.

  • Victoria Tankersley
    2018-10-29 08:04

    Fascinating perspective on the Atlantic pirates from 1690-1726, revealing that pirates of that time were originally formed as worker solidarity in resistance to the maltreatment of ship captains. Further explains how pirates created a "new" government which was in direct resistance to the dominant ideology of capitalism and Christianity.

  • Redsteve
    2018-10-31 16:23

    An excellent book on the Golden Age of Piracy from a socio-economic perspective. This book discusses who the pirates were (and goes into a good bit of statistical data on nationality/region, age, background, etc.), their motivations and organization, and how they were viewed (and ultimately bloodily suppressed) by the law-abiding world of governments and merchants.