“Thoroughly engrossing . . . a spirited, suspenseful, economically told tale whose significance is manifest and whose pace never flags.” —The Wall Street Journal
From The New York Times–bestselling author of The Ghost Map and Extra Life, the story of a pirate who changed the world
Henry Every was the seventeenth century’s most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular—and wildly inaccurate—reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But Steven Johnson argues that Every’s most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a major shift in the global economy. Enemy of All Mankind focuses on one key event—the attack on an Indian treasure ship by Every and his crew—and its surprising repercussions across time and space. It’s the gripping tale of one of the most lucrative crimes in history, the first international manhunt, and the trial of the seventeenth century.
Johnson uses the extraordinary story of Henry Every and his crimes to explore the emergence of the East India Company, the British Empire, and the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations. How did this unlikely pirate and his notorious crime end up playing a key role in the birth of multinational capitalism? In the same mode as Johnson’s classic nonfiction historical thriller The Ghost Map, Enemy of All Mankind deftly traces the path from a single struck match to a global conflagration.
Johnson (Farsighted), a historian and popular science writer, recounts the story of English pirate Henry Every's 1695 seizure of a Grand Mughal treasure ship returning to India from Mecca and its global ramifications in this entertaining and erudite chronicle. Johnson charts the historical arcs, including the rise of the Mughal Empire, the East India Company's efforts to tap into the Empire's wealth, and the "radical egalitarianism" that came to characterize early modern piracy that set Every and the Mughal ship on a collision course, and details how the Englishman's actions were quickly mythologized at home, with rumors circulating that he won the heart of a Muslim princess along with an estimated 200,000 (equivalent to about $20 million today) worth of gold and jewels. At the Mughal court, however, the incident was reported as a horrific "gang rape." Facing pressure, the East India Company organized a worldwide manhunt for Every (who was never caught) and thereby gained sovereignty over the Indian Ocean, which permanently altered the balance of power in the region, reshaped Anglo-Indian relations, and helped to launch a new global era, according to Johnson, whose lucid prose and sophisticated analysis brings these events to vibrant life. This thoroughly enjoyable history reveals how a single act can reverberate across centuries.