We have a book club at USV. We read one book together every month and then discuss it over lunch. Today, we are going to discuss Enemy Of All Mankind, the story of the British pirate of the late 17th century, Henry Every.
The book was written by our friend and former USV portfolio company founder Steven Johnson. As is typical of Steven’s work, Enemy Of All Mankind is both a great story and also an object lesson in how single event can have a compounding effect on global politics and economics.
In this case, Every and his crew of pirates siezed a treasure ship belonging to the Grand Mughal that was returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition to making Every and his crew rich beyond belief, the attack set off a global political storm between India and England and resulted in a manhunt to find and punish the pirates.
It is a story about the dominant economic forces of the time (global trade routes) and how a single actor can and did wreak havoc on them. And it is a story about how that moment changed the course of India and England for the next two centuries.