Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail by Marcus Rediker

Synopsis: In Outlaws of the Atlantic, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker turns maritime history upside down. He explores the dramatic world of maritime adventure, not from the perspective of admirals, merchants, and nation-states but from the viewpoint of commoners—sailors, slaves, indentured servants, pirates, and other outlaws from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. Bringing together their seafaring experiences for the first time, Outlaws of the Atlantic is an unexpected and compelling peoples’ history of the “age of sail.” With his signature bottom-up approach and insight, Rediker reveals how the “motley”—that is, multiethnic—crews were a driving force behind the American Revolution; that pirates, enslaved Africans, and other outlaws worked together to subvert capitalism; and that, in the era of the tall ship, outlaws challenged authority from below deck. By bringing these marginal seafaring characters into the limelight, Rediker shows how maritime actors have shaped history that many have long regarded as national and landed. And by casting these rebels by sea as cosmopolitan workers of the world, he reminds us that to understand the rise of capitalism, globalization, and the formation of race and class, we must look to the sea. (from the back of the book)

Review: Often histories from the Age of Sail speak about the big names - Columbus, Nelson, Blackbeard - but this books, it gathers the voices of the lowly sailors, the slave, the common man. Exploring sailing, not just from the viewpoint of pirates, but also the sailors pressed into service during the wars, the slave transported across in unspeakable conditions, and the sailor who wrote about life as sea as a common laborer. The author did a fine job of making this interesting to read - with easy prose, moderate vocabulary, he struck a balance between easy-reading and scholarly works. It's also a fresh take on the history of sailing in the Atlantic, bringing to light several stories and voices not often heard. A fine addition to any maritime library!

Note: I received this free from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, in exchange for my fair and honest opinion

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-8070-3410-1
Date Finished: 5-19-2015
Pages: 241

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