The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic Paperback – Aug 25 2001
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Globalism is nothing new, argue leftist historians Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. Centuries ago, European trade concerns, such as the Dutch East Indies Company and the Virginia Company, sought to create an overseas empire owned by corporations, not governments. Backed by governments all the same, these companies found themselves opposed only by a congeries of revolutionary sailors, artisans, farmers, and smallholders, who formed a "many-headed hydra" of resistance.
Arguing that this history of resistance to globalism has been unjustly overlooked, Linebaugh and Rediker delineate key episodes. When, for instance, a group of English sailors and common laborers were shipwrecked on the island of Bermuda en route to America, they created their own communal government, which was so pleasant to them that they refused to be "rescued" and had to be removed to the colonies by force. Their ideological descendants later banded with runaway slaves and other discontents to form multi-ethnic, multilingual pirate navies that hindered the transatlantic traffic in metals, jewels, and captive humans. Some of the men and women involved in these pirate bands, this "Atlantic proletariat," put their skills at the service of the American Revolution, which, in the author's view, "ended in reaction as the Founding Fathers used race, nation, and citizenship to discipline, divide, and exclude the very sailors and slaves who had initiated and propelled the revolutionary movement." The fire of rebellion soon spread all the same, they note, to such places as Haiti, Ireland, France, even England, helped along by these peripatetic and unsung rebels.
Linebaugh and Rediker's book is provocative and often brilliant, opening windows onto little-known episodes in world history. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Deriding the "historic invisibility" of their subjectsA"the multiethnic class that was essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy"ALinebaugh (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 sortsAmaids, slaves, felons, pirates and indentured farm handsAformulated 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
According to the authors, this resistance in New York was not unusual. It was just one of many, many rebellions and uprisings in the Atlantic colonies by what the authors call the "hydrarchy," appropriating Francis Bacon's scurrilous metaphor of the many-headed hydra which he borrowed from the myth of Hercules and used to characterize dispossessed and extirpated peasantry of the Atlantic, a characterization used thereafter by the ruling class to describe those whom they enslaved to the exigencies of capitalism. As the authors say in their conclusion on pages 327-328: "In the preceding pages, we have examined the Herculean process of globalization and the challenges posed to it by the many headed hydra.Read more ›
As the subtitle makes clear, this is mainly a history of sailors, slaves, and common people who are often ignored or downplayed in history books. The authors contend that these were the men and women mainly responsible for the rebellins and revolts and wars for independence fought in the Atlantic world from 1600 to 1800. In this book, the poeple who actually led the struggle, such as Crispus Attucks in the Boston Massacre, take center stage. The so-called leaders, from Cromwell to Jefferson, end up with supporting roles and sometimes even play the antagonists' part.
Although the authors write in a lively, engaging manner, some general readers may find the going tough at some points. Both of the authors are history professors, and they clearly feel strongly about what they've written. They don't use lots of specialized historical terms, but they do use many words specific to the periods they are considering. I think they could've helped a lot by including a glossary of some expressions hard to find without an unabridged dictionary. (There's only so much that one can guess from context.)
Also, general readers should approach this book as they would a good novel. For example, sometimes the authors mention people almost out of the blue, as if they'd already been introduced. In fact, they are participants from upcoming chapters.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a deeply flawed book. It seeks to construct a radical reinterpretation of the early modern Atlantic world, one which privileges class conflict. Read morePublished on April 1 2003 by K. A. Shelton
An importand and relevant book. A must for globalization theorists, cultural studies, and america/s studies....Published on April 2 2002 by Michael Benton
This was just another example of a history book that didn't need to be written, except to torment history students.Published on Dec 21 2001
Peter Linebaugh, author of The London Hanged, and Marcus Rediker, author of Between the devil and the deep blue sea, have joined forces to produce this splendid history of the... Read morePublished on July 18 2001 by William Podmore
When the World Trade Organization meets, we are used to seeing protests from people who think that the global economy is somehow wrong, that current capitalism is not the best way... Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2001 by Rob Hardy
The Many-Headed Hydra is both the title of the book by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker a symbol for the proletariat masses resisting the growth of capitalism from the... Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2001 by Ricky Hunter