The desert and the sea 977 days captive on the Somali pirate coast

Michael Scott Moore

Book - 2018

"With echoes of Catch-22 and Black Hawk Down, author and former hostage Michael Scott Moore masterfully walks a fine line between personal narrative and journalistic distance in this page-turning and novelistic account of 977 days held captive by Somali pirates. Moore set off for Somalia in January 2012 after reporting on a historic trial of ten Somali pirates in Germany. He went with an open mind and a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He knew the stories of poor fisherme...n whose livelihoods were threatened by international fishing vessels; he sympathized with the legacies of colonialism. Near the end of his trip, however, a gang of pirates captured him and demanded a ransom of twenty million dollars. Moore would be stuck in Somalia for more than two and a half years, shifted from camps in the desert bush to barren prison houses, and--for several months--he was held on a hijacked tuna vessel, where he would make friends with a crew of hostage fishermen. As the only Western journalist to witness everyday life on a ship captured by Somali pirates, Moore recounts his dizzying ordeal as a rich and surprising story of survival. After a daring but desperate attempt to escape, he struggles with murderous fantasies as well as thoughts of suicide. Some of his guards--happy to have an American to taunt--suggest his long captivity is payback for the Battle of Mogadishu, the basis for the book Black Hawk Down, more than two decades before. In the face of threats to kill him, or sell him to al-Shabaab, Moore maintains his humanity and his sardonic wit. He relates his captivity with calm detachment, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the religious and political factors behind Somali piracy. His wide-ranging narrative brings us into the destitute lives of his guards, as well as memories of his father's self-destruction. The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history."--Dust jacket.

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Subjects
Genres
True crime stories
Published
New York, NY : Harper Wave,, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2018]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
Includes glossary of names.
Physical Description
451 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
0062449176
9780062449177
Main Author
Michael Scott Moore (author)
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Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Moore's account of his captivity in Somalia is a fascinating page-turner. A Berlin-based writer, Moore traveled to Somalia in 2012 on a grant for crisis reporting and hired a guide to facilitate a meeting with pirates. Incredibly, pirates kidnapped him on the trip, believing him to be able to pay a 20-million-dollar ransom and obtain letters of exoneration from President Obama. After three years, his mother paid a lesser ransom and Moore was freed. Enduring conditions that could make any person suicidal, Moore reflects on his father's death, which he long believed to be caused by a heart attack but was in fact a suicide. Moore's honest writing will speak to readers; he is candid about his feelings, his mistakes, Somalia, his conditions, and his pirates. He walks the tightrope of inviting readers to have empathy for pirates whose national history includes brutal colonialism while demonstrating the pirates' capacity for torture. Moore also invites us to learn about him, as he himself does, during these three years that will forever mark him. Having faced an experience no one ever should, Moore constructs a narrative that makes readers' hearts beat faster and with purpose. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Venturing to the Horn of Africa in January 2012 to write about piracy, Moore was kidnapped by Somali pirates and held for 977 days. More than just a recall of his struggle to survive, this work weaves together a history of piracy, the consequences of colonialism, the subtleties of hostage negotiation, and the rise of various Islamic extremists. With a 50,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

This intense, often claustrophobic memoir relates journalist Moore's 977 days as a captive of Somali pirates. The author traveled to Somalia hoping to write an article paralleling the country's present situation with 17th-century America, where colonists sometimes found work as pirates. But events went sour from the start. Moore never felt safe, even with his hosts. Later, he became convinced these same hosts betrayed him into the hands of the pirates. The author leavens the description of his harrowing experience by writing of other topics: his captors' religious beliefs, which divided people into believers and "those for whom we don't cry"; the radical mood swings he underwent and why they never led to thoughts of suicide; his troubled relationship with a father whose suicide shaped his own life. Among the virtues of this account is that even when discussing sensational happenings, Moore never overdramatizes. VERDICT This exceptional memoir will attract many readers.—David Keymer, Cleveland Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Chronicles the author's three years of captivity by Somali pirates, offering an exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival in the process.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood chronciles his three years of captivity by Somali pirates, offering an exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism and the costs of survival in the process. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.