Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia (Paperback)
  • Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia (Paperback)
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Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia (Paperback)

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£10.99
Paperback 208 Pages
Published: 25/01/2024
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Waterstones Says

The author of The Dawn of Everything and Bullshit Jobs presents a truly fascinating insight into the true origins of the Enlightenment by focusing on a brief period of radical democracy amongst the pirates of Madagascar.

The Enlightenment did not begin in Europe. Its true origins lie thousands of miles away on the island of Madagascar, in the late seventeenth century, when it was home to several thousand pirates.

This was the Golden Age of Piracy - but it was also, argues anthropologist David Graeber, a brief window of radical democracy, as the pirate settlers attempted to apply the egalitarian principles of their ships to a new society on land.

In this jewel of a book, Graeber offers a way to 'decolonize the Enlightenment', demonstrating how this mixed community experimented with an alternative vision of human freedom, far from that being formulated in the salons and coffee houses of Europe. Its actors were Malagasy women, philosopher kings and escaped slaves, exploring ideas that were ultimately to be put into practice by Western revolutionary regimes a century later.

Pirate Enlightenment playfully dismantles the central myths of the Enlightenment. In their place comes a story about the magic, sea battles, purloined princesses, manhunts, make-believe kingdoms, fraudulent ambassadors, spies, jewel thieves, poisoners and devil worship that lie at the origins of modern freedom.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781802061567
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 160 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Chatty, punky, anti-everything catnip... it is good fun. It's about pirates, after all. - Sunday Times

Engaging ... the chief pleasure of Graeber's writing is not that one always agrees with his arguments about the past. It is rather that, through a series of provocative thought experiments, he repeatedly forces us to reconsider our own ways of living in the present. Whatever happened in 18th-century Madagascar, Pirate Enlightenment implies, we could surely all do with a bit more free-thinking and egalitarianism in our own social, sexual and political arrangements. - Fara Dabhoiwala, The Guardian

Open and imaginative... Graeber is writing in a hybrid genre of poetic history, in this sense, but he is also reminding us why such hybridisation is good for us. - New Statesman

A characteristically radical re-reading of history that places the social and political experiments of pirates at the heart of the European Enlightenment. A brilliant companion volume to the best-selling Dawn of Everything. - Amitav Ghosh

Feisty, heroic ... a highly original thinker and a wonderful writer. - Peter Frankopan, New York Times

A genius... blazingly original, stunningly wide-ranging, impossibly well read. - The Atlantic

A thinker who revolutionises the way we see the world and helps us reimagine the things we once took for granted. - New Statesman

PRAISE FOR THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING: Iconoclastic and irreverent ... an exhilarating read. - David Priestland, The Guardian

Pacey and potentially revolutionary ... This is more than an argument about the past, it is about the human condition in the present. - Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Blazing with iconoclastic rebuttals to conventional wisdom. Full of fresh thinking, it's a pleasure to read and offers a bracing challenge on every page. - Simon Sebag Montefiore, BBC History

This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast. - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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“New and Interesting!”

It is a very interesting read - arguing against the traditional historiography, which says that the Enlightenment started in Europe, Graeber focuses on a short era within the history of Madagascar’s pirates - and... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 21

“Fascinating”

A thoroughly researched book shedding a different perspective on the origins of ‘European enlightenment’. Delving deep into the world of pirates, focusing primarily on Madagascar, this short book looks at the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 17

“Fascinating blend of history and anthropology”

First published in 2019 in French and only published in English after the death of the author in 2020, Pirate Englightenment blends historical and archaeological research with anthropological fieldwork and recording... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 11

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