The Invisible Hook

The Invisible Hook

The Hidden Economics of Pirates

Book - 2009
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Pack your cutlass and blunderbuss--it's time to go a-pirating! The Invisible Hook takes readers inside the wily world of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century pirates. With swashbuckling irreverence and devilish wit, Peter Leeson uncovers the hidden economics behind pirates' notorious, entertaining, and sometimes downright shocking behavior. Why did pirates fly flags of Skull & Bones? Why did they create a "pirate code"? Were pirates really ferocious madmen? And what made them so successful? The Invisible Hook uses economics to examine these and other infamous aspects of piracy. Leeson argues that the pirate customs we know and love resulted from pirates responding rationally to prevailing economic conditions in the pursuit of profits.

The Invisible Hook looks at legendary pirate captains like Blackbeard, Black Bart Roberts, and Calico Jack Rackam, and shows how pirates' search for plunder led them to pioneer remarkable and forward-thinking practices. Pirates understood the advantages of constitutional democracy--a model they adopted more than fifty years before the United States did so. Pirates also initiated an early system of workers' compensation, regulated drinking and smoking, and in some cases practiced racial tolerance and equality. Leeson contends that pirates exemplified the virtues of vice--their self-seeking interests generated socially desirable effects and their greedy criminality secured social order. Pirates proved that anarchy could be organized.

Revealing the democratic and economic forces propelling history's most colorful criminals, The Invisible Hook establishes pirates' trailblazing relevance to the contemporary world.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2009
ISBN: 9780691137476
Branch Call Number: 910.45 L48i
Characteristics: xvi, 271 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm


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May 24, 2017

This is a book for people interested in: 18th century, pirates, economics. Leeson is sometimes very funny but jokes aside, he knows his stuff.

The whole point of piracy is to make money. You cannot make money if the sailors are drunk all the time, are fighting over gambling, do not do their jobs and keep the vessel in good repair. The history of piracy up to and through this period of history is that captains were the absolute master. Power corrupts I've heard. Some - not all - captains were brutal and sadistic. If word got around, sailors would not sign on and this was an incentive for vessel owners to make sure the captains mellowed a little.

The pirates had no state. They came from England, Spain, Holland, Wales and even the American colonies. Mostly England and Spain. No state claimed them and they wanted no state. One of the more amazing facts about pirates in this time is that they formed the first democracy. There were rules such as moderate drinking, no gambling. The sailors chose their captain. If the captain abused his role of organization and administration, he was fired and another captain was chosen. The captains got no more food than the others; they didn't have their own cabin and bunked with the rest. The rules were codified which was pretty astonishing when you consider how few people could read or write.

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Jan 13, 2017

patsfan34 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 1 and 99


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