Summary Of Villains Of All Nations By Marcus Rediker

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Marcus Rediker has been concentrated on the seafaring studies for more than thirty years. Looking back on his previous studies, he published an article about pirates arguing that for a short period in the early eighteenth century Anglo-American pirates created their unique social order as egalitarianism that they throw down the caste system and exploitation of labor which is typical in the capitalist world (Rediker 1981). In his book Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age published in 2004, he attempts to elaborate, refine, and expand his thesis in a further step. The book answers questions as who these pirates were, what let them to turn pirates, and how they conceived of and governed themselves. Organized with attractive …show more content…

First of all, he claims that pirates were born in poor families, had proletarian occupations, and served as desperate seamen recruited through mutiny or by volunteers from captured merchant vessels. In the chapter three “Who will go ‘a pyrating’?”, Rediker took Walter Kennedy as a typical example of a wretched person turning to pirate. “He was born into poverty in a port city; he was experienced in the rough conditions of life at sea, in both the navy and the merchant service; … in search of something better, he decided to become a pirate (60).” Moreover, Rediker suggests that pirates escape from an oppressive circumstance on the purpose of doing justice to sailors. Rediker uses couples of examples in chapter five to demonstrate pirates’ fondness for revenge and uphold for social justice. Many pirates used the word “revenge” when renaming their vessels, “Blackbeard’s vessel was named Queen Anne’s Revenge; Stede Bonnet’s Revenge, John Cole’s New York Revenge’s Revenge, and William Fly’s Fames’ Revenge” and they “enquired into the Manner of the Commander’s Behaviour to their Men, and those, against whom Complaint was made” were “whipp’d and pickled (84)”. In my opinion, Rediker’s argument here is relatively tenuous in justifying for the violence enacted by pirates. Because the evidence he presented in the book mainly …show more content…

This book is intended for wide and popular readers with not much knowledge of the history of pirates, therefore its simplifying contents should be helpful for engaging more readers. Rediker has done a massive amount of research, and has used many first and secondary sources to support his arguments, including theories of historian Eric Hobsbawm and Captain Charles Johnson (1724)’s semi-fictionalized accounts of the major pirates of his era A General History of the Pyrates. The strength of the book lies in its serious, un-sensationalist portrayal of pirates. In doing so, Rediker has probably delved the traditional sources, newspapers and official records in order to update his previous studies on pirates. Rediker’s quoting from plenty of documents has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, those quotes are strengthening his arguments. On the other hand, his “word for word” quoting is really distracting, and sometimes I would lose what exactly the quote was trying to say. There are some weakness lies in its title and coherence of the book. Since the book is entitled as Villains of All Nations, readers would expect to read villains all over the world. But Rediker's book is almost exclusively anglocentric on the pirates, which means that most of evidences are connected to the English and the New World. From my perspective of view, coherence between chapters is relatively poor.

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