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The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast

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Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival. In January 2012, havi Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival. In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International—and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates. Subjected to conditions that break even the strongest spirits—physical injury, starvation, isolation, terror—Moore’s survival is a testament to his indomitable strength of mind. In September 2014, after 977 days, he walked free when his ransom was put together by the help of several US and German institutions, friends, colleagues, and his strong-willed mother.  Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history. Caught between Muslim pirates, the looming threat of Al-Shabaab, and the rise of ISIS, Moore observes the worlds that surrounded him—the economics and history of piracy; the effects of post-colonialism; the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom; while also conjuring the various faces of Islam—and places his ordeal in the context of the larger political and historical issues.            A sort of Catch-22 meets Black Hawk Down, The Desert and the Sea is written with dark humor, candor, and a journalist’s clinical distance and eye for detail. Moore offers an intimate and otherwise inaccessible view of life as we cannot fathom it, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the social, economic, religious, and political factors creating it. The Desert and the Sea is wildly compelling and a book that will take its place next to titles like Den of Lions and Even Silence Has an End.


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Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival. In January 2012, havi Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival. In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International—and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates. Subjected to conditions that break even the strongest spirits—physical injury, starvation, isolation, terror—Moore’s survival is a testament to his indomitable strength of mind. In September 2014, after 977 days, he walked free when his ransom was put together by the help of several US and German institutions, friends, colleagues, and his strong-willed mother.  Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history. Caught between Muslim pirates, the looming threat of Al-Shabaab, and the rise of ISIS, Moore observes the worlds that surrounded him—the economics and history of piracy; the effects of post-colonialism; the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom; while also conjuring the various faces of Islam—and places his ordeal in the context of the larger political and historical issues.            A sort of Catch-22 meets Black Hawk Down, The Desert and the Sea is written with dark humor, candor, and a journalist’s clinical distance and eye for detail. Moore offers an intimate and otherwise inaccessible view of life as we cannot fathom it, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the social, economic, religious, and political factors creating it. The Desert and the Sea is wildly compelling and a book that will take its place next to titles like Den of Lions and Even Silence Has an End.

30 review for The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    This is a fascinating story about the three years of Moore’s captivity by Somali pirates. Moore is a journalist and a gifted storyteller. Moore used his journalist tools of observation, interviewing techniques, and his interest in people’s stories to help him survive and then write an excellent memoir. The author provided a first-hand account of the Muslim pirates, the beginning of Al-Shabaab and the rise of ISIS which revealed the various faces of Islam. I was interested in his analysis of the This is a fascinating story about the three years of Moore’s captivity by Somali pirates. Moore is a journalist and a gifted storyteller. Moore used his journalist tools of observation, interviewing techniques, and his interest in people’s stories to help him survive and then write an excellent memoir. The author provided a first-hand account of the Muslim pirates, the beginning of Al-Shabaab and the rise of ISIS which revealed the various faces of Islam. I was interested in his analysis of the political and economic problems of Somali. The book is well written; in fact, Moore’s storytelling gift made it read like a page turning novel. The story of his capture, starvation, isolation and injuries made this into a nail-biting thriller. He made this so real I almost felt the flies crawling on my face. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is just over twelve hours. Coray Snow does an excellent job narrating the story. Snow was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and is now a full-time audiobook narrator. Snow specializes in science fiction, fantasy, military and history audiobooks. He has a voice that is easy to listen too. He has a reading rhythm appropriate to the story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I am amazed that a 450 page book about almost three years of captivity was so engrossing. I didn't realize how good a job Moore had done evoking what his captivity was like until the end of the book when he is finally released. Before he even tells you of his reaction to freedom, you can intuit what that would be like (only to a degree, of course) after the deprivation and hopelessness he experienced. Everything about this book was deeply human.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    My husband read this and afterward said "read it". And I am glad I did, Michael Scott Moore has written an incredible story about a horrific situation. The way he humanizes his cruel, but ridiculous Somali guards is a testament to his talented writing and his generous spirit. By the time I finished his tale I loved him like a son. I am so glad he survived his capture to write this very important and informative book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    American author is researching modern day piracy in Somalia when he is abducted in 2012. He remains in captivity for more than two years moved continually because of his captors worry about US rescue attempts. He spent a good portion of this time on a docked freighter with the Asian crew as fellow prisoners. Moore befriends a fisherman from Seychelles called Rolly. Like all such hostage situations the time in captivity is mostly extreme boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Moore's curi American author is researching modern day piracy in Somalia when he is abducted in 2012. He remains in captivity for more than two years moved continually because of his captors worry about US rescue attempts. He spent a good portion of this time on a docked freighter with the Asian crew as fellow prisoners. Moore befriends a fisherman from Seychelles called Rolly. Like all such hostage situations the time in captivity is mostly extreme boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Moore's curiosity about people and willingness to engage his captors keeps the reading interesting. He tries to escape once and worries about his mental balance. His release is emotional and it takes a long time for him to find his bearings. He was ransomed out but does not reveal how much was eventually paid to the pirates probably under advice that this would be harmful to future victims. Very well written.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    What a great read! Combine a gripping story and a good writer and you have a winner. A thrilling tale of kidnapping and survival under the harshest of conditions.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Renée

    Michael Scott Moore's "The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast" is phenomenal. It is an incredible book of memoir and reportage, personal experience and historical context. The writing is thoughtful, insightful, and beautiful. I wish Moore had never had the experience of being taken hostage; nevertheless, since he did, I am grateful for his profound record. (And--enormous thanks to all those who worked to bring him home. Plus Moore's mum really emerges as the hero of Michael Scott Moore's "The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast" is phenomenal. It is an incredible book of memoir and reportage, personal experience and historical context. The writing is thoughtful, insightful, and beautiful. I wish Moore had never had the experience of being taken hostage; nevertheless, since he did, I am grateful for his profound record. (And--enormous thanks to all those who worked to bring him home. Plus Moore's mum really emerges as the hero of this story. Amazing.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zack Kennedy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The text below is notes I've taken for a resource review. It will give you an idea of what the book is like though, so I figured I'd include it. Spoilers. -Author Michael Scott Moore an American who lives in Germany was inspired to go to Somalia to write a book about piracy and the culture surrounding it following the court case of a number of Somali pirates in Germany who had been captured after hijacking a German fishing boat. -He initially intended to write a book comparing the situations of t The text below is notes I've taken for a resource review. It will give you an idea of what the book is like though, so I figured I'd include it. Spoilers. -Author Michael Scott Moore an American who lives in Germany was inspired to go to Somalia to write a book about piracy and the culture surrounding it following the court case of a number of Somali pirates in Germany who had been captured after hijacking a German fishing boat. -He initially intended to write a book comparing the situations of the US and Somalia, and argue that if Somalians were provided resources and infrastructure to help them build ports and harbours, the need and desire to commit piracy would be drastically reduced. This would be because these ports and harbours would provide jobs for people as well as an economic boost for the region. -He discusses how in America, they had a major piracy problem that was more or less solved within in 3 decades. This was achieved by developing said harbours and ports along the Atlantic coast. He argued that while the situations are certainly different, it might be possible to achieve something similar in Somalia. -Initially, his trip was moderately successful as he was able to tour the region, including Hobyo, a well-known pirate town, as well as interview a pirate directly. This pirate whom he interviewed noted that the reason they commit piracy is to defend their waters from other countries who come there to fish illegally. -Somalia was in turmoil after the overthrowing of their dictator Mohammad Siad Barre by a rebel movement (this is touched on briefly in the film Black Hawk Down). Despite how despised Barre was, it seemed like he was the only one who would be able to keep foreign countries from illegally fishing in Somalian waters. -As a by-product, groups of Somalians began to approach these international ships and force them to pay a tax or a fee before they could resume fishing in their waters. This was the basis for what would eventually become Somali piracy, as the groups slowly became more and more violent throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s and eventually realized that they could make a lot more money for the trouble if they simply hijacked the ship or kidnapped passengers. -Another reason Somalian’s wanted to control their waters was because the Italian mafia, after the fall of Barre, had made agreements with Somali warlords that would allow them to dump poisonous or toxic waste in their waters OR bury it in their beaches. As a result, Moore noted that he would frequently see large barrels or drums sitting along beaches and was told that the locals were simply unable to remove them due to the size. This also meant that Moore essentially refused to drink well water during his trip as he was (understandably) concerned that the well water had been contaminated. -Moore was travelling with another journalist. This journalist was set to fly out a day before Moore to Mogadishu, while Moore was flying out to Nairobi. After seeing off his fellow journalist at the airport, it was upon his return to his hotel that his vehicle was ambushed. That day, Moore suspiciously only had one guard with him, and as they were driving they were forced to pull over by an armoured truck with a mounted machine gun on it. -Moore noted this was the first time he was ever consciously aware he was in denial. As numerous Somalians leapt from the armoured vehicle, he found himself thinking “this is normal, they just want to see my passport, and then they will let us go on our way”. This reality was quickly shattered when they tried to force open the door. Moore was beaten with the butt ends of their AK-47s, including his wrist being broken, glasses being shattered and a gash being opened on his head. -Moore was then shuttled away and moved constantly for the next month or two. During his first few days, he encountered numerous other hostages, including two who would be rescued 4 days after his capture when a group of NAVY Seals snuck up on a sleeping group of pirates, executed them, and then escorted the hostages to safety. -The first day of being a hostage, he was forced to call his mother in LA (who was already aware of his situation) and demand the ransom which his captors wanted: 20 million dollars. He initially laughed at the pirates and told them that no one has that kind of money. They of course did not think it was funny. -Eventually, Moore was moved to a fishing boat and was held captive on the boat for 9 months. Surprisingly, this was the most enjoyable or positive part of the experience for Moore, as he was able to befriend the crew of the boat who were also being held hostage. This at least gave him some company. -Moore was eventually returned to land, and the constant movement and changing of positions resumed. -Near the end of his ordeal, Moore found it incredibly difficult to persevere, as many would. He found it especially difficult because as the pirates got more comfortable with him, they would leave weapons and guns lying around him. The typical thought of grabbing a gun and trying to blast his way to an escape crossed his mind occasionally. Perhaps more difficult, was the thought of grabbing the gun and committing suicide with it. This was something Moore agonized over for a long time, as he felt he would no longer be a burden to his family and friends if he ended his own life. -While Moore was of course beaten, manipulated and abused while with these pirates, there were also some who treated him decently. The pirates also had an incentive to keep Moore healthy, so they provided him with things like a mosquito net to try to prevent him from getting malaria or providing him with bottled water as he refused to drink what he felt was contaminated well water. -Moore’s captors eventually agreed to accept a 2.4 million dollar ransom that was raised by family and friends. He believes they settled on this amount because after two and a half years he was looking very frail and weak, and the pirates would rather take 2.4 million than have him die and get nothing. -Moore was told at one point during the ordeal that his kidnapping was revenge for the Battle of Mogadishu, a battle which took place in 1993 in Mogadishu between US forces and Siad Barre’s men. This battle is the subject of the book/movie Black Hawk Down -Moore found returning to normal life understandably difficult. He found himself constantly overwhelmed upon return. For example, friends and family had been taking care of his finances while he was held hostage. Upon his return there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up, but Moore could only process paperwork or things of that nature for maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day following his return, otherwise he would become incredibly anxious and be unable to focus. -Moore still seems to take the approach that Somali pirates are products of their environment and not necessarily bad people, although it does appear he holds some resentment towards the situation, which would be more than reasonable. -The writing style of the book a lot of times makes it feel like you are reading a fiction novel. In addition, it is such an unbelievable story and it compels you to continue forward to find out what happens next. The book does start to lag a bit during the middle, however; but this makes sense as Moore was held captive for 2 and a half years. Sometimes the description is lacking, but it is understandable considering the experience he went through.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Surprisingly boring

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Vallar

    As a reporter for Spiegel Online, Michael Moore covered a piracy trial – the first held in Germany in over four hundred years. What he learned piqued his curiosity to know more about Somali pirates, so he accompanied Ashwin Raman, a documentary maker and war correspondent for German TV, to the Horn of Africa in 2012. At the time of their arrival, the pirates held more than 700 sailors captive. They mostly hailed from Asian countries and were often referred to as the “forgotten hostages.” The jour As a reporter for Spiegel Online, Michael Moore covered a piracy trial – the first held in Germany in over four hundred years. What he learned piqued his curiosity to know more about Somali pirates, so he accompanied Ashwin Raman, a documentary maker and war correspondent for German TV, to the Horn of Africa in 2012. At the time of their arrival, the pirates held more than 700 sailors captive. They mostly hailed from Asian countries and were often referred to as the “forgotten hostages.” The journey cost several thousand dollars for two weeks and a Somali elder from the same town as many of the pirates on trial arranged for Moore’s and Raman’s protection during their stay. Having dual citizenship, Moore traveled under a German passport, but was also an American. All went according to plan until one conversation with Somalis mentioned a pirate lord who wished to kidnap him. It was just a rumor, perhaps spread to raise their anxiety, but an incident soon after convinced both men it was time to go home. But Moore hadn’t yet interviewed any of the pirate defendants’ families, so while Raman prepared to leave Somalia, Moore decided to stay just a few days longer to conduct the interviews. Instead, he was forced to remain in country for nearly three years. The ambush occurred soon after he left the airport following the departure of Raman’s plane. Moore was yanked from the car, beaten, his wrist broken, his glasses lost, and his belongings taken. The threat of dying became a constant. He was awakened during the night and moved from one location to another – sometimes staying in dilapidated houses, other times in the bush or on a captured vessel – while enduring sickness, beatings, chains, malicious guards, a thorough regulation of his daily life, few comforts, and a total inability to understand why. Although there were periods where he was the only hostage, he also spent a lot of time with a kidnapped Seychelles fisherman named Rolly Tambara, who became his best friend and often warned, “Do not make them angry, Michael.” (11) Yet small defiances, hope of rescue or escape, friendship, and a desire not to end up like his father helped Moore endure. The Desert and the Sea is principally an account of Michael Moore’s time as a pirate captive, and yet it is so much more. He introduces readers to Somali culture and history, from colonial times to independence to devolution into a war-torn country rife with poverty and anarchy. This book is not just his story; it is also about other hostages, including those with whom he spent time and others rescued or lost during his captivity. More importantly, he shows the psychological, physical, and emotional impacts of long-term captivity, as well as the after effects he and other captives experienced following their releases. At the same time, he discusses growing up in California and coming to terms with his father’s suicide. He also recounts the often unseen side of kidnappings – what the victims’ families experience and the frustrating process of negotiating with pirates who demand exorbitant ransoms, such as the $20,000,000 they demanded for Moore’s release. This is an up-close-and-personal, harrowing account of a pirate captive. Perhaps because he entwines confinement with personal episodes from his past, we get a miniscule taste of what he experienced in a way that makes it all too real. We also come away with an inkling of just how long 977 days under the constant threat of loss of life and liberty must have felt like. It is equal to other such accounts, yet it is also unique and unforgettable. As gritty as desert sand and as salty as the sea.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    It is hard to believe that Michael Moore actually survived his harrowing ordeal of captivity by the Somalis. He asked himself early on (and many times during captivity) what he was thinking by going into a dangerous place even if it was to be an investigative journalist trying to find out the scoop in these places of political unrest. He found out that the "pirates" were just wanting to line their pockets by capturing who they thought would bring them their longed for cache because their captiv It is hard to believe that Michael Moore actually survived his harrowing ordeal of captivity by the Somalis. He asked himself early on (and many times during captivity) what he was thinking by going into a dangerous place even if it was to be an investigative journalist trying to find out the scoop in these places of political unrest. He found out that the "pirates" were just wanting to line their pockets by capturing who they thought would bring them their longed for cache because their captives came from "rich" countries with wealth to spread around--after all, they thought, America kept bailing out their own banks out and upping their spending even if it meant going into more debt. Michael was moved from place to place, from land to sea, back again to land--mistreated, underfed, bombarded by mosquitoes, loud sounds, lies, and other discomforts. He contemplated suicide many times, but gave up when he knew he could never go the way of his father who took that way out. He tried escape once, but that failed. He spoke English and German so he was able to give some messages on his phone calls to his mom (set up to ask for ransom--set at 2 million dollars) by speaking German quickly. He lived in Germany before he was captured, but grew up in Southern California where his mother (German descent) still lives. The tale gave some insight into pirates thinking--some were good natured, some evil, most so-called dedicated Muslims. They did not consider themselves terrorists, although some of them did stoop to torture and threatened execution.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    A harrowing story for sure. Read this one for book club and found it interesting. But it also tended to drag a bit (I mean the dude was hostage for over 2 years, so yeah some of it's kind of boring....) so I skimmed a bunch. Also since it was written by a journalist, I found some of it to be overly detached and emotionless, which is unexpected for a memoir/story of this type. Overall it presented an interesting historical and cultural examination of piracy in Somalia, while also telling the stor A harrowing story for sure. Read this one for book club and found it interesting. But it also tended to drag a bit (I mean the dude was hostage for over 2 years, so yeah some of it's kind of boring....) so I skimmed a bunch. Also since it was written by a journalist, I found some of it to be overly detached and emotionless, which is unexpected for a memoir/story of this type. Overall it presented an interesting historical and cultural examination of piracy in Somalia, while also telling the story of his abduction and the cruelty (and sometimes oddly thoughtful things) he suffered at the hands of the pirates. He strove to remain as unbiased as a possible when presenting the 'facts', the history and cultural information, but obviously after being captive for 977 days a person isn't going to be 100% neutral. Overall, it was a good read and I'm glad I read it but it could have been shorter.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Hill

    Moore traveled to Somalia to research a book about the pirates there. He got more than he bargained for. You have made a mistake. Mistakes are human. He is told this by one of his captors, early on, and it becomes a bit of a mantra for him. Moore spent more than two and a half years in captivity. Two and a half years as a hostage. (view spoiler)[He wasn't tortured, wasn't beaten (much). Wasn't starved. (hide spoiler)] For part of his time, he was kept with other hostages, other prisoners, on boar Moore traveled to Somalia to research a book about the pirates there. He got more than he bargained for. You have made a mistake. Mistakes are human. He is told this by one of his captors, early on, and it becomes a bit of a mantra for him. Moore spent more than two and a half years in captivity. Two and a half years as a hostage. (view spoiler)[He wasn't tortured, wasn't beaten (much). Wasn't starved. (hide spoiler)] For part of his time, he was kept with other hostages, other prisoners, on board a captured Chinese fishing boat. He spent two and a half years sleeping on a foam mattress, swatting flies, confined to a single room. He spins this tale out to about 450 pages, and it's just the right length. We learn about why he went there, and when it's all over we get what I think is just the right amount of denouement. In between, we are with him as he struggles with his guards, with his memories, with his sanity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Wood

    The author went to Somalia to explore the piracy epidemic, for possible solutions but didn't expect to do such in-depth research. After being held captive for 977 days he got to know his captors and fellow captives quite well. He paints a picture of a disorganized, misinformed band of bandits. They had hyperinflated perceptions of American wealth and thus what ransom was reasonable. As the negotiations dragged on, the author experienced emotional turmoil, boredom, anxiety, fear, lack of informat The author went to Somalia to explore the piracy epidemic, for possible solutions but didn't expect to do such in-depth research. After being held captive for 977 days he got to know his captors and fellow captives quite well. He paints a picture of a disorganized, misinformed band of bandits. They had hyperinflated perceptions of American wealth and thus what ransom was reasonable. As the negotiations dragged on, the author experienced emotional turmoil, boredom, anxiety, fear, lack of information and even contemplated suicide, more than once. The story is interesting but it was difficult to keep the characters straight, even with a list in the back of the book. It was quite detailed but I had to wonder how he was able to accurately recall events and details from the few notebooks he was actually able to keep until his release.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nila Novotny

    I found this book very interesting. It gives a close up and person view of present Day piracy when the typical view is Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a very different world out there than what I thought. This book gives names and personalities to kidnappers, guards, hostages, negotiators and their families. Pirates really shouldn’t kidnap journalists if they want to remain mysterious or anonymous. Micheal Scott Moore unwrapped their hidden faces and gave me a real look. The reasoning behind it a I found this book very interesting. It gives a close up and person view of present Day piracy when the typical view is Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a very different world out there than what I thought. This book gives names and personalities to kidnappers, guards, hostages, negotiators and their families. Pirates really shouldn’t kidnap journalists if they want to remain mysterious or anonymous. Micheal Scott Moore unwrapped their hidden faces and gave me a real look. The reasoning behind it all is still fuzzy thinking on the kidnappers part. Like many of us, they don’t have a view of the wider world or understand what they are really taking on. I felt this was well written and entertaining to read while being a true and somewhat gruesome story. Well worth the time to read it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Koen

    It doesn't get much better than this. An absolutely stunning book by Michael Scott Moore about his mind boggling 977 days as a Somali pirate hostage. That's two years and eight months! That in itself is a worthwhile story but with Moore's writing this became an epic 464 pages of journalism, history, memoir and reflection. After a hesitant start the story grabbed me and basically consumed me whole. There was not much else i could think about before i had seen it all through. What struck me most i It doesn't get much better than this. An absolutely stunning book by Michael Scott Moore about his mind boggling 977 days as a Somali pirate hostage. That's two years and eight months! That in itself is a worthwhile story but with Moore's writing this became an epic 464 pages of journalism, history, memoir and reflection. After a hesitant start the story grabbed me and basically consumed me whole. There was not much else i could think about before i had seen it all through. What struck me most is the way Moore manages to put to paper his emotional state and rationale. This is as close as it gets to experience the ordeal the author went through. Stunning story, beautifully written.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan McDonald

    I saw the author talking about this book on "The Daily Show" and Trevor Noah was right when he commented that "The Desert and the Sea" reads like a novel. I could not put it down. Michael Scott Moore manages to tell his story of 900+ days of captivity, mix it with self-analysis and still keep his sense of humor. Writer Moore is a California boy, with family connections that take him to Berlin and then to Galmudug, Somalia, in 2012, where he wanted to interview a pirate. He got more than he wishe I saw the author talking about this book on "The Daily Show" and Trevor Noah was right when he commented that "The Desert and the Sea" reads like a novel. I could not put it down. Michael Scott Moore manages to tell his story of 900+ days of captivity, mix it with self-analysis and still keep his sense of humor. Writer Moore is a California boy, with family connections that take him to Berlin and then to Galmudug, Somalia, in 2012, where he wanted to interview a pirate. He got more than he wished for. I could write more but I want you to read the book. It's at the Wheatland Library. When one of the pirates shares a movie on his cell phone and Michael recognizes Tom Hanks' voice, his story proves that truth is stranger than fiction. Author Moore tells a great yarn!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Debby

    Journalist Michael Scott Moore went to Somalia to interview a Somali pirate but his local contacts betray him and he ends up being captured and held for ransom. "You have made a mistake, mistakes are human," he is told by one of his captors. He spends the next two and a half years in captivity, part of the time on board a captured Chinese fishing boat, and part of the time on land, hidden away in various remote houses. Often there is little to eat but cold spaghetti and mango juice and some of th Journalist Michael Scott Moore went to Somalia to interview a Somali pirate but his local contacts betray him and he ends up being captured and held for ransom. "You have made a mistake, mistakes are human," he is told by one of his captors. He spends the next two and a half years in captivity, part of the time on board a captured Chinese fishing boat, and part of the time on land, hidden away in various remote houses. Often there is little to eat but cold spaghetti and mango juice and some of the guards are brutally abusive, but Moore manages to paint many pirates as victims of their circumstances or their own mistakes. A fascinating look into a little known part of the world.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Watkins

    Michael Scott Moore is angry, and for good reason. He was abducted and held hostage by Somali pirates for over 2 1/2 years in conditions ranging from bleak to appalling. His harrowing story should have made for a compelling book. Anger, though, however righteous, does not necessarily translate into a good read. You would have to be stone cold not to have tremendous sympathy for his situation, but I found his narrative graceless and lacking in deeper insight into the circumstances that led to his Michael Scott Moore is angry, and for good reason. He was abducted and held hostage by Somali pirates for over 2 1/2 years in conditions ranging from bleak to appalling. His harrowing story should have made for a compelling book. Anger, though, however righteous, does not necessarily translate into a good read. You would have to be stone cold not to have tremendous sympathy for his situation, but I found his narrative graceless and lacking in deeper insight into the circumstances that led to his capture and eventual release. I was very much looking forward to this book, but it disappointed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I always wondered what hostages did for years on end. I now have some idea. But it is tedious, so the book is a bit tedious. Also, there were too many characters for me to keep track of. There was a list of names at the back of the book, but I think an index with page numbers would have been more useful. I did find it funny that one of Michael's captors friended him on Facebook after he was released! Did the pirate really think they were friends?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Flowergarden24

    This showed us great insight into the minds of the pirates and also what kinds of things a person thinks about while in captivity. I liked the way the author wasn't trying to make himself seem like a big hero or tell us of his hardship so we feel sympathy. He keeps saying how he made a huge mistake in going to a dangerous place and causing his Mom and others years of torment as well as himself. It wasn't a self-aggrandizing book. I found it very exciting , honest and very sad.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    An account of the author's time as a hostage of Somali pirates. Hard to imagine, after reading the book, how a person could begin to cope with the conditions of his capture and the seesaw of emotions of hopelessness and hope. I learned quite a bit about conditions in Somalia as a whole, none of them good.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kaspars Purmalietis

    Fascinatingly boring. Was expecting that I will love it, but unfortunately, I can barely give it 3 stars. Was tempted to give 2, but maybe it's just me and maybe I am not that interested in the topic after all. Did not like the writing style and think that 2/3 of the content could have been cut out of the book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lily M

    My favorite aspect of this book was the insight the author provides into his own mind as a reaction to the dangerous and often absurd circumstances in which he finds himself. I was also fascinated to learn about the world of Somali pirates and the behind-the-scenes of commercial fishing. I will never look at a can of tuna the same!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    Riveting. Well written, introspective account by a man who was kidnapped and held hostage by Somalian terrorists. Sensitive and introspective, so finely drawn that I could feel the terror and uncertainty and the anger.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Omar Alshaker

    Very well-written. Keeps you excited the whole time without any cheesy added dramatization. The audio version is remarkable. The narriation is absolutely brilliant. You could tell every character apart without waiting for context! Loved it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    The book was engaging and interesting in the beginning. The author was kidnapped by Somali pirates and lived for over 2 years in captivity, but the ending was less satisfying for me and a bit of a letdown. Great story and many trials to deal with and overcome, but the way it ended was just blase.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyla

    Very well written with a dry sense of humor. I had to keep reminding myself that yes, these events actually happened to the author... at times scary, sobering, fantastical, and funny... this is an insightful read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thaddeus Sweet

    Inside the hostage... Comprehensive research, history, storytelling, and deep psychological insights from the author/captive made this a fascinating read. While the text seemed long and moved slowly at times, this quality helped reinforce the true experience of captivity.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Francie

    Enthralling account of a journalist held captive by Somali pirates for 2.5 years. Would have been 5 stars but slogged down a bit with excessive (repetitious) details.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Cortado

    Fantastic! I love the tone and matter of fact attitude that he presents such a incredible true through. An epic tale of greed and the human spirit

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