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on 15 June 2011
I bought this book as soon as it came out, and was not disappointed. At the onset of the piracy explosion, the author quit his market research job in Toronto and bought a ticket to Somalia, spending months on the ground and meeting some of the most notorious pirate bosses, including Garaad Mohammed, the man responsible for the hijacking of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama. Buying his way into their good graces with bags of the narcotic leaf "khat," Bahadur tracks the pirates in their coastal bases and constructs a financial statement for one of the gangs he encounters there. The book is also full of interesting analysis about the causes of piracy and tactics that the international community has tried to combat the problem, as well as the author's recipe for a solution.
All in all, an extremely exciting and fascinating read.
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VINE VOICEon 8 August 2011
Jay Bahadur hit on a novel way to break into journalism: he wrote the defacto rulers of Puntland, a tribal fiefdom in Somalia where piracy has been rife. President Farole, whose authority is not recognised by any other government, was happy for a chance to give his side of the picture to the world media, and delegated one of his own sons to be Bahadur's bodyguard all of the time he was in Somalia. And one can well understand why he would: Farole has to maintain order in Puntland on a budget of $20 million per annum. Were it not for the inherent stability of the medieval clan system (which still holds in Puntland, unlike in the South of Somalia), his job would be impossible.

It seems that Farole's desire to suppress piracy is genuine. Legitimate enterprises will not create the investment Puntland needs until piracy is eliminated. And most of the population are against it: little if any of the ransoms paid to pirates benefits anyone beyond the closer relatives of the pirates. And even then, the amounts the pirates get for risking their lives is derisory: the luckiest ones might make enough to build a respectable house and buy a Land Cruiser, but the money doesn't last long. The pirates Bahadur interviewed were among the more successful ones, and as soon as they got their hundred dollars, they were off like a shot to buy some more khat (the local cocaine substitute).

Bahadur has really done his research. In fact, the amounts paid for ransom are chickenfeed. It simply isn't worth it for shipping companies to hire mercenary guards. Bahadur outlines some fairly simple measures which would ameliorate the situation, but the insistence of the international community on recognising the toothless Trans-National Government in Djibouti prevents them from supporting democratically-elected leaders like President Farole in Puntland.

One is left with a certain sympathy for the pirates. With rare exceptions, they don't kill or hurt people. Somalia is a land without hope, and piracy is one of the very few ways a poor boy can get anything at all. Pirates often leave to attack the shipping lanes in the middle of the Indian Ocean, far away from their bases--and their boats are so small that can't carry enough fuel to get back. If they don't capture a ship, they will most likely die, and they know it. But even then, becoming a pirate is an unrealistic dream for most Somalis: there aren't that many people in Somalia with enough money to finance and inflatable skiff, a powerful outboard, and a few Kalashnikovs, so the competition to get a coveted pirate's job is intense.

Despite a few leaden metaphors, this book is well-written. It jumps about in time quite a lot, but it isn't hard to follow. Even though piracy might not really deserve the column-inches it gets, it's still a riveting story well told.
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on 3 December 2014
You have to admire the courage and initiative of the author to head off to Puntland to investigate the piracy issue firsthand. The book is extremely creditable in the sense that it very much shatters the Western media myth o the gangster rap lifestyle of the pirates It also raises some interesting points regarding the collapse of the Somali State and ongoing civil war, illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in Somalia waters as drivers in the upsurge of piracy. Having read the book I feel better informed on some aspects of Somali piracy.
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on 12 November 2013
I was intrigued to read this book after watching the recent Hollywood movie about Captain Richard Phillips. I have to say on the whole I was disappointed with Jay Bahadur's account and didn't really come away with much of an insight into the world of Somali piracy. There is no doubting the author's determination but sadly he didn't come close to penetrating the inner sanctum of the Puntland Pirates. In conclusion I would suggest reading newspaper coverage if you want to really learn about this topic.
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on 24 August 2015
very good servioes
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on 30 April 2015
good book
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on 25 August 2014
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on 17 January 2012
I love pirates! It was watching all those "Pirates of the Carribean" films which got me hooked. Evading Her Majesty's navy, searching for treasure, drinking rum and sailing the high seas. It just comes across like really good fun. So imagine my disappointment when I read this book.

Gone are the swordfights with fellow pirates and in come kidnapping people and holding them for millions of US dollars ransom. Don't bother looking elegant blunderbusses but you will see loads of loaded bazookas and AK-47's. It's just another sign that society loses its innocence too quickly...
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