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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750by Rediker Marcus
Synopses & Reviews
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.
'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
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.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea focuses upon the seamen's experience in order to illuminate larger historical issues.
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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