HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of…
Loading...

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First… (edition 2020)

by Steven Johnson (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
703282,930 (3.74)2
"How did a single manhunt spark the modern era of multinational capitalism? Henry Avery was the seventeenth century's most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular--and wildly inaccurate--reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But Steven Johnson argues that Avery's most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a new model for the global economy. Enemy of All Mankind focuses on one key event--the attack of an Indian treasure ship by Avery and his crew--and its surprising repercussions across time and space. Johnson uses the extraordinary story of Henry Avery and his crimes to explore the emergence of the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations. Like the bestselling How We Got To Now and The Ghost Map, Enemy of All Mankind crosses disciplinary boundaries to recount its history: the chemistry behind the invention of gunpowder; the innovations in navigation that enabled the age of exploration; the cultural history of pirates; the biographical history of Avery and his crew; the rise of the Moghul dynasty; and the commercial ambition of the East India Company. In this compelling work of history and ideas, Johnson deftly traces the path from a single struck match to a global conflagration"--… (more)
Member:shabay3
Title:Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt
Authors:Steven Johnson (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2020), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt by Steven Johnson

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
The central narrative of this book – the story of the man who may have been called Henry Every, and who in 1694 carried out an act of piracy against a treasure ship of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb - hangs on a very slender historical thread; which is why the author has had to pad it out with a great deal of collateral history. For all that it is a bit of a potpourri, the story is told in good potboiler fashion, and the author’s excursions into the history of the Mughals, piracy in general, the invention of the joint stock company, and other topics vaguely connected to the central story, do sustain the reader’s interest.

All that is known for sure about Every is that he led a mutiny, making off with a fast merchantman, of which he was first mate, in the harbor of La Coruna Spain, and then attacking and plundering the treasure ship in the Indian Ocean. Nothing certain is known about about his origins or early years, and the last sighting of him was in the Bahamas a few months after the attack, where he dumped the stolen ship and eventually made his way back - presumably to the British Isles. Because the treasure ship was carrying some high-ranking members of the the Mughal court – possibly including a granddaughter of the emperor – back from a pilgrimage to Mecca, and as the pirates were known to be English, the emperor took reprisals against the British East India Company. The Company had not yet reached that later stage in which it became the effective ruler of the subcontinent; at this point, its operations were still at the pleasure of the Mughal emperor. The owners and board members in London were sufficiently alarmed at its possible expulsion from India – which, as the author points out, would have changed the whole later course of Indian history – that they convinced the government to make the capture and punishment of Every and his crew official British government policy. Five members of Every’s crew were subsequently arrested in England and hanged following a show trial at the Old Bailey; Every himself was never found or punished, and became a subject of many legendary stories and popular ballads throughout the 18th century.

Although the author seems to have a good grasp of the early modern period, his knowledge of earlier periods is far less certain. It may seem like a quibble, but his chapter locating the origins of piracy in the so-called Sea Peoples of the Late Bronze Age is very misleading. The Sea Peoples were not, as the author presents them, prototype pirates “living an entirely nautical existence”. They were only known as Sea People because, to the Egyptians and other people of the Levant who recorded their unwelcome arrival, they came from the Sea. The “prevailing theory” is not that they were a collection of refugees from Mycenean Greece; it is considered much more likely that, although there were clearly cultural connections to Mycene, they came from much farther east, the Aegean area and mainland Asian Minor. The most well-known element among the Sea People, the Philistines - whose name is still perpetuated in the country once known as Palestine - readily abandoned their boats to settle down in the fertile coastal plain of the the southern Levant. Even the idea of piracy, in an age when there was no concept of territorial sovereignty – let alone a “Law of the Sea” - and when people routinely took whatever they could by force, is anachronistic. One could also mention his assertion that “the last vestiges of the Roman Empire were toppled by AD 650”, ignoring its survival as Byzantium for a further 800 years. Or, in discussing the origins of Islam and the Haj, the “seven thousand years” since Abraham had divine vision. But I won’t.

It’s a good read; the author provides very vivid descriptions of life at sea in the 17th century, and of pirate society. He probably exaggerates the historical significance of the central event. But who cares? ( )
  maimonedes | Jul 10, 2020 |
There is too much exaggeration and too many hypotheticals for my taste. This could be an interesting story, but not with the little hard information we seem to have available. Surprisingly, the fictionalized parts of the story, like Johnson's narration of the original mutiny, are not well written. Johnson tries to imitate a thriller, and it doesn't come off.

> Every's crimes on the Indian Ocean ultimately helped define and fortify institutions that would come to dominate the modern world. Thanks to Samuel Annesley's ingenuity, the Gunsway affair would give the East India Company new powers that would ultimately lead to their imperial rule over the subcontinent; the contretemps with Aurangzeb forced the British government to clarify its long-ambiguous legal attitude toward piracy in international waters. … Every's story also lit a different fuse: the deeply populist vision of a society where the stratifications of wealth and privilege could be replaced by a much more equitable form of social organization.

> In 1631, a Barbary pirate raid on the small Irish village of Baltimore in County Cork in the dead of night absconded with almost a hundred people, half of them children, all of whom were sold into slavery back in Algiers. Fourteen years later, two hundred forty English citizens living on the Cornish coast were captured and enslaved

> His father's terminal illness turned out not to be terminal at all. Shah Jahan lived for another eight years after his son clawed his way onto the Peacock Throne. That was eight years too many for Aurangzeb. He condemned his father to spend the rest of his life imprisoned in the Red Fort at Agra, with only a distant view of the Taj Mahal through his cell window

> A little more than half a century after the Spanish Expedition left London, sailors would stage one of the first general strikes in labor history. The word "strike" itself derives from their strategy of "striking," or lowering, the sails of anchored ships as a sign of their refusal to work

> Henry Every and his men adopted a simpler structure: two shares for Every, one share for everyone else. … Consider the opening line of the Roberts articles: "Every man shall have an equal vote in the affairs of moment." The pirates encoded these democratic principles into their constitutions almost a century before the American and French Revolutions.

> "Every man who shall become a cripple or lose a limb in the service shall have 800 pieces of eight from the common stock and for lesser hurts proportionately." Pirate communities built insurance into their constitution … All these elements combined—an onboard democracy, with separation of powers; equitable compensation plans; insurance policies in the event of catastrophic injuries—meant that a pirate ship in the late 1600s and early 1700s operated both outside the law of European nation-states and, in a real sense, ahead of those laws

> in order to maximize both agility in the water and manpower on board, most pirate captains disavowed their exclusive quarters and slept with the rest of the crew belowdecks. The egalitarian ethos of the pirate community extended to the architecture of the ship itself.

> Accused of crimes against humanity, accused of violating the property and the direct relations of the Grand Mughal of India, the six men were found by the jury of their peers to be innocent of all charges. Even Henry Every—"not taken" but charged with the crimes nonetheless—had been exonerated. … Instead of accusing them of robbing the Gunsway, what if the state centered its argument on the theft of the Charles II? The men had been acquitted of piracy, but the state could still charge them with mutiny.

> Aurangzeb would go on to outlive many of his descendants, dying in 1707 at the age of eighty-nine. In his final years, the Universe Conqueror sensed that the Mughal dynasty was on unstable ground. "After me, chaos," he is said to have predicted. It turned out to be an accurate forecast. For fifty years after his death, the Indian state was characterized by a "a string of weak emperors, wars of succession, and coups by noblemen." All the while, the East India Company consolidated its power over the region, culminating in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, after which the corporation assumed official control of the subcontinent, an administrative reign that would last for a hundred years. ( )
  breic | Jun 16, 2020 |
Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt by Steven Johnson is a very highly recommended account of Henry Every, the seventeenth century’s most notorious pirate.

"In the case of these two ships confronting each other in the Indian Ocean, those nearly microscopic causes will trigger a wave of effects that resonate around the world. Most confrontations like this one, viewed from the wide angle of history, are minor disputes, sparks that quickly die out. But every now and then, someone strikes a match that lights up the whole planet. This is the story of one of those strikes."

In September 1695, English pirate and mutineer Henry Every, captain of the Fancy, attacked and seized a Grand Mughal treasure ship returning to India from Mecca. This act, one of the most lucrative crimes in history (about $20 million today), had global ramifications and sparked the first international manhunt and the trial of the 17th century. Every's name is even somewhat disputed. It may have been "John Avery" but he also briefly went by Benjamin Bridgeman. It is agreed that he was born near Plymouth, in Devonshire, on the southwest coast of England in the late 1650s.

Johnson also covers the history of piracy before Every, starting with the Sea People in the Bronze Age, up to Every's act that triggered of a major shift in the global economy in the emerging power of the expanding British Empire, the East India Company, and the modern global marketplace. While the British Crown put a huge price on Every's head, only five of his crew were arrested, tried twice, and hanged. Every's daring piracy and escape also marked the spread of his fame as a working class hero. He and his crew became celebrities of a sort and legends, even inspiring a song.

As expected, Enemy of All Mankind is a fascinating, well-researched, and thoroughly enjoyable account of a little known pirate and the repercussions of his actions. I completely enjoyed reading this detailed examination of how one act of piracy placed in a historical context reverberate across centuries and had far-reaching consequences. Like Johnson's other books, this narrative is highly readable making it interesting to both the curious and history buffs and shows how one event can result in lasting, far-reaching consequences.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2020/05/enemy-of-all-mankind.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3329080789 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | May 10, 2020 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

"How did a single manhunt spark the modern era of multinational capitalism? Henry Avery was the seventeenth century's most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular--and wildly inaccurate--reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But Steven Johnson argues that Avery's most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a new model for the global economy. Enemy of All Mankind focuses on one key event--the attack of an Indian treasure ship by Avery and his crew--and its surprising repercussions across time and space. Johnson uses the extraordinary story of Henry Avery and his crimes to explore the emergence of the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations. Like the bestselling How We Got To Now and The Ghost Map, Enemy of All Mankind crosses disciplinary boundaries to recount its history: the chemistry behind the invention of gunpowder; the innovations in navigation that enabled the age of exploration; the cultural history of pirates; the biographical history of Avery and his crew; the rise of the Moghul dynasty; and the commercial ambition of the East India Company. In this compelling work of history and ideas, Johnson deftly traces the path from a single struck match to a global conflagration"--

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.74)
0.5
1
1.5
2 2
2.5
3 3
3.5 1
4 7
4.5 2
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 150,722,528 books! | Top bar: Always visible