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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Nonfiction

Cover Art: The Pirates of Somalia
The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World
By Jay Bahadur
Pantheon Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-307-37906-1, $26.95
E-book ISBN 978-0-307-90698-4, $13.99
Audio book ISBN 978-0-307-96979-8, $20.00
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Few journalists dare to venture within the land of the Somali pirates, but Bahadur makes his first journey after the taking of the tanker MV Faina in 2008. This book is a melding of his trips combined with examinations of the historical background of Somalia, its present-day conditions, and the complex legalities confronting the pirates, their hunters, and their prosecutors.
 
The book contains a prologue, fifteen chapters, an epilogue, maps, three appendices, tables, and an index. There are also black-and-white photographs of captured ships, pirates and their leaders, various buildings and places, naval vessels involved in patrolling the area, and several pertaining to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama in 2009.
 
Bahadur’s story begins with his frightening flight into Somalia and the reasons that compelled him to enter into this dangerous investigation. Rather than relying on news reports of “warlords, famine, Black Hawks, jihadis . . . pirates,” the author interviews the pirates themselves, their victims, government officials, negotiators, naval personnel involved in safeguarding ships, and those responsible for prosecuting and imprisoning captured pirates. In the process, he also introduces us to Somali culture and clan system, while demonstrating the hijackers are people too.
 
Although Bahadur confesses he had difficulty presenting this topic from a fresh perspective, he does so admirably. He permits the reader to venture behind the scenes from the safety of their homes, while portraying all sides of the issue without inflicting his own prejudices or biases into the story. His interviews with “old boys,” the original Somali pirates, provide a stark contrast to their younger brethren who carry out the raids today.
 
This fascinating account opens readers’ eyes to a world hidden from our everyday lives while explaining complex issues in straight forward language. It leaves us with a better understanding of the pirates, the world in which they live, and why it’s important for nations of the world to work together to protect seamen’s lives and find a way to resolve the issues causing the problem in the first place. We also see why finding a resolution presents so many difficulties.

Read an excerpt


Review Copyrighted ©2011 Cindy Vallar

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