Steven Johnson argues with verve and conviction in his thoroughly engrossing Enemy of All Mankind ... Because Enemy of All Mankind offers, among its many pleasures, a solid mystery story, it would be wrong to reveal the outcome. But it’s surprising. So, too, are the many larger themes that Mr. Johnson persuasively draws from his seaborne marauders. It is possible that readers may not be eager to learn about 17th-century metallurgy, or the coalescing of nation-states, or the rise of world-wide commerce in the era; but they will be glad they did once they encounter these matters here. All the author’s more surprising suppositions are not merely stapled onto the narrative but seem to have grown there effortlessly during the course of a spirited, suspenseful, economically told tale whose significance is manifest and whose pace never flags.
... [a] page-turner of a book ... we can thank Johnson for combing the archives, describing in vivid detail the life of pirates that we thought we knew—most likely through motion pictures—when in truth we didn’t ... Enemy of all Mankind covers lots of territory, including the beginnings of the British Empire, and it’s a good read, made all the better by Johnson’s clever storytelling and an unforgettable pirate named Henry Every.
Johnson is one of those polymath writers who links events and subjects most of us wouldn’t see as related, always to enlightening effect ... intriguing...relevant to our own world. Johnson doesn’t just write about the heyday of piracy; he connects it to the growth of nation-states, the history of the first multinational corporation, the origins of democracy and the birth of the tabloid media, among other things ... an amazing story, but the real one Johnson tells in Enemy of All Mankind is even more so.