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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

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 4 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.

  4. 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.)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Humphries

    Captivating story. So thought provoking and so well written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Surprisingly boring

  10. 4 out of 5

    Calisto

    very well written.... the fears and the frustrations ..come out so very clearly

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jade Belzberg

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  13. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  14. 5 out of 5

    George Nelson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary HC

  16. 5 out of 5

    linda enis

  17. 5 out of 5

    Austin

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Frank

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deanna Alise Day

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  22. 5 out of 5

    Martin Shelton

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  24. 4 out of 5

    Akay25295gmail.Com

  25. 5 out of 5

    Haf

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul T. McGee

  27. 4 out of 5

    James

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Phetteplace

  30. 5 out of 5

    mr g martin

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