Pirates of Somalia

Just finished reading some non-fiction for a change. It was definitely interesting although I'm quite excited to be taken back into a fantasy world. Anyways- the book!

The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World
By: Canadian journalist Jay Bahadur
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Pantheon
Goodreads Summary:
Somalia, on the tip of the Horn of Africa, has been inhabited as far back as 9,000 B.C. Its history is as rich as the country is old. Caught up in a decades-long civil war, Somalia, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Getting there is a forty-five-hour, five-flight voyage through Frankfurt, Dubai, Djibouti, Bosasso (on the Gulf of Aden), and, finally, Galkacyo. Somalia is a place where a government has been built out of anarchy.

For centuries, stories of pirates have captured imaginations around the world. The recent bands of daring, ragtag pirates off the coast of Somalia, hijacking multimillion dollar tankers owned by international shipping conglomerates, have brought the scourge of piracy into the modern era.

The capture of the American-crewed cargo ship Maersk Alabama in April 2009, the first United States ship to be hijacked in almost two centuries, catapulted the Somali pirates onto primetime news. Then, with the horrific killing by Somali pirates of four Americans, two of whom had built their dream yacht and were sailing around the world (“And now on to: Angkor Wat! And Burma!” they had written to friends), the United States Navy, Special Operation Forces, FBI, Justice Department, and the world’s military forces were put on notice . . . The Somali seas were now the most perilous in the world.

Jay Bahadur, a journalist who dared to make his way into the remote pirate havens of Africa’s easternmost country and spend months infiltrating their lives, gives us the first close-up look at the hidden world of the pirates of war-ravaged Somalia.

Bahadur’s riveting narrative exposé—the first ever—looks at who these men are, how they live, the forces that created piracy in Somalia, how they spend the ransom money, how they deal with their hostages. Bahadur makes sense of the complex and fraught regional politics, the history of Somalia and the self-governing region of Puntland (an autonomous region in northeast Somalia), and the various catastrophic occurrences that have shaped their pirate destinies. The book looks at how the unrecognized mini-state of Puntland is dealing with the rise—and increasing sophistication—of piracy and how, through legal and military action, other nations, international shippers, the United Nations, and various international bodies are attempting to deal with the present danger and growing pirate crisis.

A revelation of a world at the epicenter of political and natural disaster

Rating: 3/5

Wow. This book really is a different kind of thrill. I was stoked to hear the author/journalist was a Canadian. woop woop!
Anyways, this book was pretty unreal.... but it IS real. I didn't know a whole lot about the topic, just had seen/heard/read a few news snippets here and there, but Bahadur gives us a pretty good overview of this kind of (very dangerous) life. Im sure he has only scratched the surface and I almost feel like he was teasing us throughout the book. I personally wanted to hear like the grueling accounts of exactly what happens on the ships first-hand, more about the hostages etc. Although I had to keep in mind- its not just a story its non-fiction and what Jay Badahur accomplished was pretty incredible.

Critically, I found that the book didnt flow together all that well despite the interesting topics. I was engaged but I found it hard to read a lot in one sitting. Also, I would really have liked to hear a little bit More about what In the world was going through Bahadur's mind, how he felt, how scared he felt, etc etc. I think just a little extra feeling would have made this an easy 5-star.

I recommend reading this book if you think you have thing for pirates, or just want to be more educated on what is going on in the world you live in- maybe appreciate how lucky you are to live where you do.


  • Lan | August 31, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    Don't you love it when you come across a book that's written by someone from your country!! I get a bit excited too. This book sounds terrifying. It's hard to digest that some of the things that happen in real life seem so much more fantastical than any fiction ever written. I don't know if I could read this book without being scared :(

  • RhiannonPaille | September 1, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Hey Alanna, thanks for commenting on my guest post over at imabookshark! Glad you're interested in the book, I know, November is a long time to wait, but it'll be okay! I'm posting something yummy over at parajunkee for supernatural smackdown . . . an alternate ending to Flame of Surrender! (Yeah this is sounding a lot like a promo comment . . .) Anyway, thanks again, and hope to catch you soon!