"Villains of All Nations explores the Golden Age of Atlantic piracy and the infamous generation whose images underlie our modern, romanticized view of pirates. Historian Marcus Rediker focuses on the high-seas drama of 1716-1726, which featured the dreaded black flag, the Jolly Roger; swashbuckling figures such as Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and the unnamed, pegleg pirate who was likely Robert Louis Stevenson's model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island." "This exploration shows how sailors emerged from deadly working conditions on merchant and naval ships, turned pirate, and created a starkly different reality aboard their own vessels. At their best, pirates constructed their own distinctive egalitarian society, electing officers, dividing their booty equitably, and maintaining a multinational social order." "This unprecedented social and cultural history proves that the real lives of this motley crew - which included cross-dressing women, people of color, and the "outcasts of all nations" - are far more compelling than contemporary myth. Pirates challenged and subverted prevailing conventions of race, class, gender, and nationality, posing a radical democratic challenge to the society they left behind. They dared to play the rebellious villains on a floating international stage. The authorities hanged them for it, but the pirates triumphed in the end, winning the battle for the popular imagination in their own day and in ours."--BOOK JACKET.