- Paperback: 340 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (February 24, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521379830
- ISBN-13: 978-0521379830
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700 - 1750 New Ed Edition
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"...an excellent up-from-the-lower deck study of deepwater sailors in the eighteenth century...the best working-class history I've read in years." Robert Schaeffer, In These Times
"...No one interested in the history of the 18th century can afford to ignore this book." Christopher Hill
"...A fresh and powerful analysis of the 18th century maritime world." Gary Nash
"...the style is lucid, the tone is assured, the documentation professional and economical. And the book is brought to a triumphant conclusion with two superb chapters on the seaman as the 'Spirit of Rebellion' and as a pirate...What distinguishes Rediker's work is his unwavering and unsentimental focus on the seaman's labour and experience in his cramped wooden world." E.P. Thompson, The Guardian
"...a book that undoubtedly will have an enduring value. Every student of early eighteenth-century maritime affairs should read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea." John D. Byrn, Jr., The Eighteenth Century
"...luminous study of a neglected segment of colonial society." Robert M. Calhoon, Historical Journal of Massachusetts
This unsparing account of the eighteenth-century maritime world reconstructs the often brutal social and cultural milieu of Anglo-American seafaring and piracy, following sailors and their ships from their trade routes into rowdy waterfront ports.
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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is certainly written with a Marxist view of history. The main focus of this work is the economic developments of the day and the conditions, wages, and lives of the working class. This is not the only book written by Rediker that takes an anti-Capitalist stance, as The Slave Ship shares similar traits. The title that Rediker chose is also telling because the “Devil” refers to the captains, who are representatives of the Capitalist system and the “Deep Blue Sea” represents the natural dangers that were ever present for the seamen. In Rediker’s opinion, the common worker was caught between two dangerous forces.
Interestingly, the sailors themselves had their own unique culture in which Rediker describes to the reader. The men had their own language (including many curse words) and even their own distinctive walk. By talking about their culture, Rediker is further narrowing the focus of his study from a merchant history to a social history focused on the working class.
Rediker gives a very different portrayal of life at sea than N.A.M. Rodgers gives in The Wooden World. Rodger’s set out to dispel myths of brutality and tyrannical captains, while Rediker does the exact opposite. Both men were writing about roughly the same time period, but they give very different account of life at sea. Rediker describes tyrannical captains and hellish conditions aboard the ships, while Rodger’s offers a more romanticized version.
Rediker views piracy as a direct response to the rising capitalist system and the tyrannical rule of the captains. He describes an almost Socialist system in which the pirates split and shared the bounty that they collected. According to Rediker, the captains of the pirate ships treated the members of their crew much better than those of the merchant ships. It was for this reason that they were able to maintain their position.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is an extremely well-written book and it does provide insight into the lives of the common seamen, but it is not perfect. Rediker’s anti-Capitalist bias can be seen through the work and brings to question some of his conclusions. Overall, this book does fill a gap in the existing maritime historiography and will remain an important work.
Stop reading reviews and buy this book.