Under the Banner of King Death

Marcus Rediker


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Verso Books
11 July 2023
ISBN: 9781804293492
136 pages

From the publisher

Under the Banner of King Death is a tale of mutiny, bloody battle, and social revolution, bringing to life an itinerant community of outsiders behind today's legends. This graphic novel breaks new ground in our understanding of piracy and pirate culture, giving us real reasons to love the rebellious and stouthearted marauders of the seas.

At the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Atlantic piracy, three unlikely companions are sold into servitude on a merchant ship and thrust into a voyage of rebellion. They are John Gwin, an African American fugitive from bondage in South Carolina; Ruben Dekker, a common seaman from Amsterdam; and Mark (a.k.a. Mary) Reed, an American woman who dresses as a man.

When the crew turn to mutiny, they and the freed slaves establish democracy aboard The Night Rambler. This new dispensation provides radical social benefits, all based on the documented practices of real pirate ships of the era: democratic decision-making, a social security net, health and disability insurance, and an equal distribution of spoils taken from prize ships. But before long the London elites enlist a war-hungry captain to take down The Night Rambler in a war that pitches high society against high-seas freebooters.

Adapted from the scholarship and research of celebrated historian Marcus Rediker, Under the Banner of King Death is an inspiring story of the oppressed steering a course against adversity and injustice.