Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy (2nd ed.)

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    Gabriel Kuhn

    Publisher: PM Press

    Year: 2020

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 304 pages

    ISBN: 9781629637938

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Over the last couple of decades, an ideological battle has raged over the political legacy and cultural symbolism of the “golden age” pirates who roamed the seas between the Caribbean Islands and the Indian Ocean from roughly 1690 to 1725. They are depicted as romanticized villains on the one hand and as genuine social rebels on the other. Life Under the Jolly Roger examines the political and cultural significance of these nomadic outlaws by relating historical accounts to a wide range of theoretical concepts—reaching from Marshall Sahlins and Pierre Clastres to Mao Zedong and Eric J. Hobsbawm via Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. With daring theoretical speculation and passionate, respectful inquiry, Gabriel Kuhn skillfully contextualizes and analyzes the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and disability in golden age pirate communities, while also surveying the breathtaking array of pirates’ forms of organization, economy, and ethics.

Life Under the Jolly Roger also provides an extensive catalog of scholarly references for the academic reader. Yet this delightful and engaging study is written in language that is wholly accessible for a wide audience.

This expanded second edition includes two new prefaces and an appendix with interviews about contemporary piracy, the ongoing fascination with pirate imagery, and the thorny issue of colonial implications in the romanticization of pirates.

What People Are Saying

"In the golden age of piracy thousands plied the seas in egalitarian and communal alternatives to the piratical age of gold. The last gasps of the hundreds who were hanged and the blood-curdling cries of the thousands traded as slaves inflated the speculative financial bubbles of empire putting an end to these Robin Hoods of the deep seas. In addition to history, Gabriel Kuhn’s radical piratology brings philosophy, ethnography, and cultural studies to the stark question of the time: which were the criminals—bankers and brokers or sailors and slaves? By so doing he supplies us with another case where the history isn’t dead, it’s not even past! Onwards to health-care by eye-patch, peg-leg, and hook!" Peter Linebaugh, author of The London Hanged, co-author of The Many-Headed Hydra

Life Under the Jolly Roger will appeal to anyone interested in pirates and radical practice. It brings the golden age of piracy to life and shows us the link to contemporary radical politics. I recommend this book to those who identify with pirates and seek a well-reasoned analysis of their legacy.” Luis A. Fernandez, author of Policing Dissent

 "Piracy is as relevant in today's world as it ever was, and if you want to understand why it happens and what it really means, this is the book to start with. While modern-day robber barons give pirating a bad name, this important book restores the balance through a lively and provocative narrative. Definitely one to read, and to treasure!" Randall Amster, professor of Peace Studies at Prescott College, Arizona 

“It is rare to find a book that is not only entertaining, but broadens your knowledge as well. More rare even, a book that not only enhances your knowledge but also your perspective: this is the first time the subject of pirates has been analyzed using such a variety of theories, each of which lets you see history and its stories from a different angle. Even if you think you could never be interested in the history of pirates, take a look at this book and you will be.” Nora Räthzel, professor of Sociology at the University of Umeå, Sweden

About the Author

 Gabriel Kuhn is an author, translator, and union activist. He has published widely in English and German. His texts have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Tags: anarchism ....... anticapitalism ....... armed struggle ....... cultural studies ....... Gabriel Kuhn ....... history ....... PM Press .......