Peter Linebaugh, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Toledo, is author of The London Hanged, also published by Verso. Marcus Rediker, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, is author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and contributing author of Who Built America?
Deriding the "historic invisibility" of their subjectsÄ"the multiethnic class that was essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy"ÄLinebaugh (The London Hanged), professor of history at the University of Toledo, and Rediker (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, reveal that throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, mobile workers of all sortsÄmaids, slaves, felons, pirates and indentured farm handsÄformulated ideas about freedom and justice that would eventually find expression in the American Revolution. The moneymen thought of themselves as noble heirs to Hercules, "symbol of power and order," and referred to the people they mobilized across continents as "hydra," after Hercules's many-headed foe. During these early days of intercontinental commerce, there were many small rebellions, and Linebaugh and Rediker's book is especially valuable for its rich descriptions of the lesser-known revolts, including one by slaves in New Jersey who "conspired to kill their masters," burn their property and make off with their horses in 1734, and another by Native American whalers who tried to torch Nantucket in 1738. The authors also describe the March 1736 "Red String Conspiracy": 40 to 50 Irish felons, who planned to burn Savannah, kill all the white men and escape with a band of Indians (the conspirators wore red string around the right wrist to identify themselves). Their plot was foiled but caused great unrest in Savannah. This book provides a unique window onto early modern capitalist history. The authors are to be commended not only for recovering the voices of obscure folk, but also for connecting them to the overarching themes of the age of revolution. 50 b&w illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"An extremely important and well written book" Times Literary Supplement "More than just a vivid illustration of the gains involved in thinking beyond the boundaries between nation-states. Here, in incendiary form, are essential elements for a people's history of our dynamic, transcultural present." Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic "The sections on piracy are perhaps the best parts in a generally splendid book. But even more seminal for historical research are the many vistas Linebaugh and Rediker open up in the history of blacks, women, the United Irishmen, the left in the American War of independence, and religious millenarianism. Strikingly, the authors write from the heart as well as the brain." Frank McLynn, author of Villa and Zapata "Scum of the maritime sort has their spell in the limelight with The Many-Headed Hydra. This compelling history of the 'revolutionary Atlantic' portrays pirates, sailors, dockers, sea-going whores and other dregs of the ocean and coast as briny rebels who resisted the global commercial order and even disrupted the slave trade for decades." Independent "The Many-Headed Hydra is a wonderful book. Its passion and commitment encourages its readers to think associatively, to make progressive connections." Guardian "Peter Linebaugh and Markus Rediker, militantly libertarian academics, have written, in what the call 'this black book of capitalism', an account of trans-Atlantic social change since the seventeenth century, from the viewpoint of the underdog ... The authors' egalitarian bias may stimulate as much acclamation as Das Kapital." Irish Times