Chapter 1 takes the reader on a tour d’horizon of maritime piracy from antiquity to the 1980s with particular emphasis on the escalation, manifestation and responses to piracy in Southeast Asia and North Africa during the nineteenth century and analysis of the maritime climate in the pre-war, interwar and post-war period. Three core themes emerge from this chapter: first, that piracy never entirely disappeared; second, that the attention to or perception of maritime crimes, like piracy, were subject to contemporary fashions – often out of sync with actual incidents; and finally, that the strength of naval presence is one of the core explanatory factors for the occurrence of piracy.