Book - Enemy of All Mankind

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt

Book centers on Henry Every, it’s fairly quick read, 250 pages more or less. Kindle version was under $ 2.00.

In the acknowledgement the author describes the book as similar to “The Ghost Map” (same author):


Similar in some ways to Colin Woodward’s book The Republic of Pirates.

I loved the Republic of Pirates. There is only so much original source material, so the pirate aspect will be familiar to many of you. What was different was the emphasis on just how amazingly bad conditions were for merchant mariners who were NOT pirates. It is no surprise, given how the British sailors were treated, that many of them would readily turn to piracy. They were in many ways literally slaves, their pay was frequently delayed or withheld altogether and the Royal Navy could come by any time and grab you. Merchant or Navy, either way you were likely to be spending your life in some kind of twisted S&M floating dungeon.
It was no wonder piracy flourished even without the lure of perhaps becoming rich beyond the wildest dreams of a poor sailor.

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Johnson’s book, “Enemy of All Mankind” covers some of the same ground as Woodward’s wrt the command structure of pirate ships. and so forth.

Johnson also weaves together some history of the East India Company, the British Empire in India and a few other subjects.

Enemy of All Mankind is Steven Johnson’s page-turning account. I’m not fascinated by pirates per se but Johnson surrounds the narrative arc with expert historical context. Anyone can tell you that cotton was important in trade between India and Europe but you would be hard-pressed to find a more concise account of why than Johnson’s primer. What made Indian cotton unique wasn’t the cotton but Indian chemical engineering.

The so called “Golden Age of Piracy” was the 1650s to the 1730s. Every captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, worth 10s of millions of dollars in todays money in 1695.