Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt

Steven Johnson. Riverhead, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1160-5
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. (May)
Reviewed on : 12/16/2019
Release date: 05/12/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-7352-1162-9
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7352-1161-2
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-593-17181-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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