In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, more than a thousand pirates poured from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean. There, according to Kevin P. McDonald, they helped launch an informal trade network that spanned the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, connecting the North American colonies with the rich markets of the East Indies. Rather than conducting their commerce through chartered companies based in London or Lisbon, colonial merchants in New York entered into an alliance with Euro-American pirates based in Madagascar. Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves explores the resulting global trade network located on the peripheries of world empires and shows the illicit ways American colonists met the consumer demand for slaves and East India goods. The book reveals that pirates played a significant yet misunderstood role in this period and that seafaring slaves were both commodities and essential components in the Indo-Atlantic maritime networks.
Enlivened by stories of Indo-Atlantic sailors and cargoes that included textiles, spices, jewels and precious metals, chinaware, alcohol, and drugs, this book links previously isolated themes of piracy, colonialism, slavery, transoceanic networks, and cross-cultural interactions and extends the boundaries of traditional Atlantic, national, world, and colonial histories.
Kevin P. McDonald is Assistant Professor of History at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
"In this fascinating book, Kevin McDonald tells the story of how pirates helped turn one imperial periphery, colonial New York, into a hub of the 'Indo-Atlantic trade world.' With a network that stretched from Manhattan to Madagascar, New York–backed sea rovers helped open the Indian Ocean to the colony’s merchants, carried slaves to North America and the Caribbean, and made spectacular fortunes. Carefully researched, beautifully written, and smartly argued, Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves is maritime history at its best." —Eliga Gould, author of Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire
"Beautifully written and well researched, Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves promises to make a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of pirate studies. Linking the Atlantic World and the Indian Ocean, McDonald shows how pirates expanded their reach to Madagascar and beyond after they were driven from the Atlantic settlements. This work captures pirates and piracy in their various contexts, complicating the story we all thought we knew so well."—Carla Gardina Pestana, Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World,
Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles