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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 Cover

ISBN13: 9780521379830
ISBN10: 0521379830
Condition:
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The common seaman and the pirate in the age of sail are romantic historical figures who occupy a special place in the popular culture of the modern age. And yet in many ways, these daring men remain little known to us. Like most other poor working people of the past, they left few first-hand accounts of their lives. But their lives are not beyond recovery. In this book, Marcus Rediker uses a huge array of historical sources (court records, diaries, travel accounts, and many others) to reconstruct the social cultural world of the Anglo-American seamen and pirates who sailed the seas in the first half of the eighteenth century. Rediker tours the sailor's North Atlantic, following seamen and their ships along the pulsing routes of trade and into rowdy port towns. He recreates life along the waterfront, where seafaring men from around the world crowded into the sailortown and its brothels, alehouses, street brawls, and city jail. His study explores the natural terror that inevitably shaped the existence of those who plied the forbidding oceans of the globe in small, brittle wooden vessels. It also treats the man-made terror--the harsh discipline, brutal floggings, and grisly hangings--that was a central fact of life at sea. Rediker surveys the commonplaces of the maritime world: the monotonous rounds of daily labor, the negotiations of wage contracts, and the bawdy singing, dancing, and tale telling that were a part of every voyage. He also analyzes the dramatic moments of the sailor's existence, as Jack Tar battled wind and water during a slashing storm, as he stood by his "brother tars" in a mutiny or a stike, and as he risked his neck by joining a band of outlaws beneath the Jolly Roger, the notorious pirate flag. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea focuses upon the seaman's experience in order to illuminate larger historical issues such as the rise of capitalism, the genesis the free wage labor, and the growth of an international working class. These epic themes were intimately bound up with everyday hopes and fears of the common seamen.

Synopsis:

'Seamen, captains and pirates occupy a special place in our popular culture, yet until now the historical record of their lives has been remarkably neglected. This brilliant account of the maritime world of the eighteenth-century reconstructs in detail the social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy.\n

'

Synopsis:

This brilliant account of the maritime world of the eighteenth-century reconstructs in detail the social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy. Rediker follows sailors and their ships along the pulsing trade routes, into ports with their crowded waterfront society of brothels, alehouses, brawls and jails, and paints a compelling picture of their world at sea with its brutal labour, harsh discipline, hangings and floggings.

Synopsis:

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea focuses upon the seamen's experience in order to illuminate larger historical issues.

Synopsis:

This unsparing account of the eighteenth-century maritime world reconstructs the often brutal social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy, following sailors and their ships from their trade routes into rowdy waterfront ports.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. The seaman as man of the world: a tour of the North Atlantic, c. 1740; 2. The seaman as collective worker: the labor process at sea; 3. The seaman as wage laborer: the search for ready money; 4. The seaman as plain dealer: language and culture at sea; 5. The seaman as the 'spirit of rebellion': authority, violence, and labor discipline; 6. The seaman as pirate: plunder and social banditry at sea; Conclusion: the seaman as worker of the world; Appendices; Index.

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Ashley Bowen-Murphy, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by Ashley Bowen-Murphy)
In "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," historian Marcus Rediker argues that the “wooden world” of the common 18th century merchant seamen, “Jack Tar,” more closely resembled an industrial factory than a workshop (200). As a result, seamen serve as an example of one of the earliest free wage workers whose life was fully subordinated to his labor. The harsh realities of life at sea, explains Rediker, “left little room for belief in the ‘dignity of labor’”. Although Rediker spends a great deal of time discussing wage structures and admiralty courts, methods of resistance and mutiny employed by seamen, and the actual labor required on a ship, the book is at its most rich when he moves to a discussion of what Jack Tar did “for [himself]” and his influence on an emerging working-class culture. Rediker employs a Marxist framework for his analysis and pulls methods from several disciplines, including history, anthropology, linguistics, and economics. By employing methods from a variety of fields and drawing from a rich collection of primary sources he is able to move away from a strictly “labor history” of the seaman’s life to a more nuanced “working class history”. Between the man-made and natural dangers that shaped Jack Tar’s life, the seaman developed a culture that foreshadowed the collective, anti-authoritarian, and oppositional working class culture in the industrial era.

Rediker spends the majority of the book examining life inside Jack Tar’s isolated “wooden world.” However, the case for seamen as leaders in an emerging, and at least somewhat organized, working class culture depends on their presence in harbors, taverns, and other public spaces where he interacted with his fellow wage-laborers. Future scholars examining the growth of an industrial working class culture ought to explore zones between the “wooden world” and the factory floor. Samuel Adams’ admiration for Jack Tar’s role in the Knowles Riot is a particularly intriguing example of the influence that the seaman’s culture had on emerging conceptions of “rights” and “liberty” that would have a major impact on land (252-3). A deeper investigation of just how visible Jack Tar was in 18th century working class struggles, with particular attention to how his peers perceived him, would help explain how an isolated work culture came to serve as a model for resistance on land.

Piracy, in Rediker’s view, ought to be viewed as the ultimate form of the common seaman’s culture. Using Eric Hobsbawm’s definition of “social banditry,” Rediker positions pirates as men cooperating to seek revenge against organized capital (269). Pirates, stripped of romance and myth, emerge as collectivist, democratic, and egalitarian sailors consciously opposed to the systems of power and authority they left behind (267). This conception of piracy may swing too far away from both the storybook conception of pirates as sea-bound Robin Hoods and the admiralty courts’ view of pirates as criminals. Despite their egalitarian impulses, pirates were extremely violent (271), capable of handing down discipline on par with a merchant captain (265), and apparently absent from the political and cultural exchanges between the land and sea-based working class. As an extreme on the working-class culture continuum, pirates would have been especially threatening to the establishment. That, perhaps more than their egalitarian social system, may have contributed to their appeal as heroes of wage laborers. Scholars should investigate how land-based wage laborers discussed pirates and piracy to add nuance to Rediker’s arguments about the pirate’s influence on maritime and political culture.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780521379830
Author:
Marcus, Rediker
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Author:
Rediker, Marcus Buford
Author:
Rediker, Marcus
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Naval history
Subject:
United States - Colonial Period
Subject:
Navigation
Subject:
Pirates
Subject:
Great Britain History, Naval 18th century.
Subject:
Merchant mariners.
Subject:
Merchant mariners -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
Merchant mariners -- North America -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
Navigation -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
Navigation -- North America -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
Pirates -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
Seafaring life -- History -- 18th century.
Subject:
United States / Colonial Period(1600-1775)
Subject:
Merchant mariners--Great Britain--History--18
Subject:
US History-Colonial America
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st paperback ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Canto original series
Series Volume:
88-472
Publication Date:
September 2004
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
17 b/w illus. 1 map 8 tables
Pages:
340
Dimensions:
8.44x5.38x.81 in. .95 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » World History » General
Languages » ESL » General
Transportation » General
Transportation » Nautical » General
Transportation » Nautical » Ships and Ship History

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$40.25 In Stock
Product details 340 pages Cambridge University Press - English 9780521379830 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 'Seamen, captains and pirates occupy a special place in our popular culture, yet until now the historical record of their lives has been remarkably neglected. This brilliant account of the maritime world of the eighteenth-century reconstructs in detail the social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy.\n

'

"Synopsis" by , This brilliant account of the maritime world of the eighteenth-century reconstructs in detail the social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy. Rediker follows sailors and their ships along the pulsing trade routes, into ports with their crowded waterfront society of brothels, alehouses, brawls and jails, and paints a compelling picture of their world at sea with its brutal labour, harsh discipline, hangings and floggings.
"Synopsis" by , Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea focuses upon the seamen's experience in order to illuminate larger historical issues.
"Synopsis" by , This unsparing account of the eighteenth-century maritime world reconstructs the often brutal social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy, following sailors and their ships from their trade routes into rowdy waterfront ports.
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