Chapter 1 from Villains of All Nations
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From the Publisher

Read chapter 1, "A Tale of Two Terrors," from Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age by Marcus Rediker (

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

Rediker 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 an egalitarian society starkly at odds with the social hierarchy of their time. They elected officers, divided their booty equitably, and maintained a multinational social order. Villains of All Nations is an unprecedented social and cultural history of life on the high seas; it delves into the myths and realities of pirate life that captured the popular imagination in their day and continue to do so in ours.
Published: Beacon Press on