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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

    da AL

    A commentary on heroism, journalism, survival, and sanity. How do journalists report on dangerous situations and emerge with body and soul intact? In some ways one may, in others one can't entirely... The author intelligently and vividly discusses how and why he survived almost 3 years as a hostage. In addition, he contemplates the effects of U.S. involvement in other countries. Excellent, including audio narrator.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    This was an engrossing read, made all the more harrowing because the author is an acquaintance of mine.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Davidson

    This is the very interesting true story about the author's harrowing experience as a journalist whose desire to interview pirates lead to his kidnapping and over 2 years as a hostage in Somalia.

  6. 5 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.

  7. 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.)

  8. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    Surprisingly boring

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    The author (a journalist) did an excellent job telling the details of his kidnapping. Not only did he tell his story but also gave good background on the beginning of pirates and other areas too, including about Muslims.

  13. 4 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott K Bozarth

    Twice as long as it should be. It’s a good story. Possibly even a great story, but it starts to drag early on and doesn’t pick up again until the very end. It was a chore to read, and that’s a shame because it’s an amazing thing to have lived through.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peter Franklin

    Quite an interesting story to read. As I am short-sighted I can sympathise with the author having to go almost a 1000 days without his glasses. Much of his time in captivity was boring for him and also for his captors, some of whom were treated him not too harshly but others were much less decent. For a story where not a lot happened most of the time, it was still a good read, which is testament to the Michael Scott Moore who was both the captive and author.

  16. 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.

  17. 5 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was very interesting, if a bit long.

  22. 4 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.

  23. 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

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark Humphries

    Captivating story. So thought provoking and so well written.

  25. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I was more fascinated by the possibilities of this book than I was by its realities. The actual story is both interesting and compelling, but its telling, for me, was not. Putting aside my wonder about why anyone would go to Somalia to do a story about pirates, I found the first 50 pages or so of the book that told the story of his capture to be informative. Those pages were followed by a few hundred pages that, sadly, I found to be written poorly enough to be boring, so I skimmed most of them. I was more fascinated by the possibilities of this book than I was by its realities. The actual story is both interesting and compelling, but its telling, for me, was not. Putting aside my wonder about why anyone would go to Somalia to do a story about pirates, I found the first 50 pages or so of the book that told the story of his capture to be informative. Those pages were followed by a few hundred pages that, sadly, I found to be written poorly enough to be boring, so I skimmed most of them. I re-engaged toward the end of the book when the author is released, but I finished the book with many questions about that part of the journey. What countries and organizations knew of his capture and what did they do for 977 days? What were the terms of the negotiated release? Who handled the negotiations? How much was paid for ransom? Who paid it? I Googled the book and the author after I finished reading the book. It seems as though the author's Facebook friend somehow ended up in New York and was arrested. Why and how did he get to New York? What will be the outcome of that trial?

  27. 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    I'm going against the grain here, because this book has had rave reviews. Well, folks, it's an interesting enough tome and I feel bad being critical of it because, heaven only knows, Michael Scott Moore underwent an ordeal that likely would have killed me. But, in his telling of it, I kept waiting for some really serious analysis, some attempted explanation of why piracy happens; how he found the will to survive; how a mix of tribalism, distorted Islam and world events may or may not create the I'm going against the grain here, because this book has had rave reviews. Well, folks, it's an interesting enough tome and I feel bad being critical of it because, heaven only knows, Michael Scott Moore underwent an ordeal that likely would have killed me. But, in his telling of it, I kept waiting for some really serious analysis, some attempted explanation of why piracy happens; how he found the will to survive; how a mix of tribalism, distorted Islam and world events may or may not create the 'perfect storm' that allows these kidnappings to happen. I never really found it in the book, in any depth. So, while I persisted with the entire thing, just to find out how it ended, I closed the covers feeling not one whit more informed about the circumstances of the event, and somewhat overfed on the details of the captivity.

  29. 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debby Stassek

    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.

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