There is a growing school of historians who seem to treat the past as though it were in need of a management consultant. Mercifully, Peter Lehr is not one of them. For while Pirates does borrow from the language of an MBA class (“start-up pirates”, “team-building”, “business models”), it does so with a light touch, using them as prompts around which to organise its considerable research... This is a serious work for a general audience. Policymakers would do well to read it, as would aspiring pirates in search of career advice
Lehr’s conclusion is that as long as there is poverty and maritime trade, the problem of piracy will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to solve. It seems that history can teach us nothing but humility, and the West is nowhere near eradicating what Gosse believed ‘one of the oldest recorded human activities’.