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

Riverhead. May 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780735211605. $28. HIST
In September 1695, English pirate and mutineer Henry Every, commanding three ships and 200 sailors, stormed an Indian treasure ship in the Arabian Sea, gaining fabulous wealth. The pirates also committed rape, torture, and murder against Muslim passengers and crew on the Ganj-i-Sawai. Victims included women of the imperial court of Aurangzeb, and pilgrims voyaging home from the holy city of Mecca. Johnson (The Ghost Map) weaves a tapestry of treasure, tribunals, emperors, atrocities, and a pirate’s life at sea. One of the most notorious acts of piracy in history, Every’s attack imperiled English relations with the Mogul Empire, obligating the British East India Company to provide armed escorts for Indian trading fleets. Policing the seas proved another step toward British maritime hegemony and imperial rule over India. The British Crown put a huge price on Every’s head, and though five of his crew were arrested and hanged, Every vanished into legend. English juries refused to convict the buccaneers for crimes against foreign Muslims; instead, Avery’s men were hanged for mutiny. Like other pirates in an emerging age of print media sensationalism, Every quickly became a folk hero of books and ballads.
VERDICT Consummate popular history: fast-paced, intelligent, and entertaining.
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