The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates

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Princeton University Press, Mar 31, 2009 - 288 pages
34 Reviews

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.

  

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Review: The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates

User Review  - Abby Goldsmith - Goodreads

Supercilious. This author simplifies and underscores every point until you wonder if his intended audience consists of mentally handicapped first graders. Sound economic theory and history, packaged ... Read full review

Review: The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates

User Review  - Paul - Goodreads

This is an interesting, quick, and not particularly well-written book. It could easily have been 5 stars, but the author plays into a lot of popular journalism tropes, trying to be overly-cutesy in a ... Read full review

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Contents

The Invisible Hook
4
Vote for Blackbeard The Economics of Pirate Democracy
26
Anarrghchy The Economics of the Pirate Code
48
Skull Bones The Economics of the Jolly Roger
85
Walk the Plank The Economics of Pirate Torture
110
Pressing Pegleg The Economics of Pirate Conscription
137
Equal Pay for Equal Prey The Economics of Pirate Tolerance
159
The Secrets of Pirate Management
179
Omnipresent Economics
197
You Cant Keep a Sea Dog Down The Fall and Rise of Piracy
200
A Note on Sources
210
Notes
216
Index
260
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Peter T. Leeson is the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism in the Department of Economics at George Mason University.

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