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.
List of Illustrations xi Preface and Acknowledgments xiii Chapter 1: The Invisible Hook 1 Chapter 2: Vote for Blackbeard The Economics of Pirate Democracy 23 Chapter 3: An-arrgh-chy The Economics of the Pirate Code 45 Chapter 4: Skull & Bones The Economics of the Jolly Roger 82 Chapter 5: Walk the Plank The Economics of Pirate Torture 107 Chapter 6: Pressing Pegleg The Economics of Pirate Conscription 134 Chapter 7: Equal Pay for Equal Prey The Economics of Pirate Tolerance 156 Chapter 8: The Secrets of Pirate Management 176 Epilogue: Omnipresent Economics 194 Postscript: You Can't Keep a Sea Dog Down The Fall and Rise of Piracy 197 Where This Book Found Its Buried Treasure A Note on Sources 207 Notes 213 Index 2