Patriot Pirates and The Invisible Hook: studies of the economics of piracy

A quick review of a fantastic little book, and a great audiobook, about the economics of piracy.

Patriot pirates is about the American tendency to outsource commerce raiding during the War of Independence to commercial interests. What struck me was how social an activity it was. If your workplace is anything like some of the ones I’ve worked in, you and your co-workers have occasionally considered all chipping in on a lotto ticket.  Well, if you were well to do during the War of Independence, you are your chums could all just chip in on a warship and a legal document allowing you to harass the enemy, and then you’d get reports of how your ship was doing.  How many people it had killed, and what it had seized, and what the repair costs were.  I suppose its more like a group of friends chipping in on a racehorse.  A homicidal racehorse that kills other horses and steals their stuff, so perhaps not the best metaphor. Patriot pirates is available for download through our OverDrive page.

The invisible hook is a great little book about how the economics of piracy led them to do stereotypical pirate things. Why were they democratic? Why have a pirate code? Why the Spanish Main? Why rum? Why demons at sea and fools ashore? It’s only brief, but it’s written in a brilliant way, mixing humor and history successfully.