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Enemy of All Mankind Reviews

Enemy of All Mankind by Steven Johnson

Enemy Of All Mankind

A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt

Steven Johnson

3.38 out of 5

4 reviews

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Prentice Hall Press
Publisher: Prentice Hall Press
Publication date: 12 May 2020
ISBN: 9780735211605
4 stars out of 5
28 Jun 2020

"how history’s greatest buccaneer got off scot-free"

Johnson cautions against romanticising the ‘populist strain that runs through Every’s life as a pirate’. But he still refers to the incident as the ‘crime of the century’, committed by the world’s ‘most wanted’ — and dismisses the story of the princess as ‘a tall tale’ while conjecturing at length about it. Crime as romance appears irresistible.



4 stars out of 5
John Gapper
17 Jun 2020

"Steven Johnson’s history revisits a violent high-seas raid that changed the course of British history"

Johnson is a bit of an adventurer himself, sailing interdisciplinary seas to lay his hands on pieces of information wherever he can find them. But his material is genially attributed to its sources, and he has such a narrative gift that he deserves clemency. From the 17th-century craze for Indian calico to the speed at which the hulls of wooden ships rotted, it is all here. Curiously little is known about Henry Every, despite becoming the world’s most famous pirate, lauded by balladeers and pursued across oceans by the East India Company but never brought to justice.

3 stars out of 5
James Marriott
30 May 2020

" a lively history that claims a pirate raid on a Mogul treasure ship was a pivotal moment"

I don’t think history works the way Johnson thinks it does, but I enjoyed his book and I learnt a lot from it (just ask me about the history of the science of ballistics). Every, by the way, was not caught, despite the £500 bounty put on his head. He ditched the Fancy and slipped away into the turbulent, unknowable shadows of history, never to be found.

3 stars out of 5
Giles Milton
10 May 2020

"The finest digressions are short and captivating"

The author’s stated aim is to explore the many chains of cause and effect that seem to coalesce in the life story of his protagonist. “A full account of the events demands that you break out of the boundaries of period histories and traditional biographies,” he writes. “Linear chronology makes for good popular storytelling, but it doesn’t always capture the deep causes that drive history.” To this end he deploys lengthy digressions to explain, as he sees it, the historical significance of Every.