What begins as a simple story of Pirates soon turns into an unique journey through Economics and History. Peter Leeson, who is an Economist, uses methodological individualism to analyze the behavior of Pirates as simple profit seekers. This allows Leeson to give a different view of the Pirates then most of us are used to. He also introduces us to many unknown facts about Pirates, who are a common cultural obsession. The secret to his book is the fact that he teaches us both Economics and History without you even realizing it. Books like More Sex is Safer Sex by Steve Landsburg and Freakonomics by Steven Levitt teach you an unconventional way to look at problems, but often not through a classic historical case. This book will do both without you hardly noticing.
The Invisible Hook is not written in a way that is hard for non-Economists to understand. It is written just for that type of audience. This book now ranks top on my list of books to recommend those as an introductory lesson into the economic way of thinking. At the same time, if you do study Economics you will not be bored as the historical mechanism takes over. For example, you may know what signaling is but the economics student likely does not know exactly how the Pirates used the flag, the Jolly Roger, to signal to other ships.
One of the most interesting parts of the book is the very last chapter. Leeson sets up a class in Pirate Management with the professor Blackbeard. Without giving to much away, he goes through and restates points in the book with modern literature. He also provides a very good reading list for those who want to read further into Economics in that chapter. This is the most unique way I have ever seen anyone end a book. It allows Leeson to review the points and restate them in a new light without putting the reader to sleep, as I am famous for skimming through conclusions.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn anything about Pirates or Economics. It is probably likely that most of Leeson’s readers will buy the book for the former, but the reader will soon find himself interested in the latter. Dr. Leeson is a rising star in the field of Economics and this is a good way for him to start.