Pirate State: Inside Somalia's Terrorism at Sea

Peter Eichstaedt, Lawrence Hill, $24.95 (209p) ISBN 978-1-56976-311-7
Veteran journalist Eichstaedt's (First Kill Your Family) compelling book, based on his extended African visits, portrays a country in chaos, torn about by tribal fighting, corruption, and the violence of desperate people fighting for survival. Beginning with the dramatic re-telling of Maersk Alabama's capture by a small group of pirates and its eighteen year old leader, Eichstaedt then discusses the tiered payment system for the pirates and the countless individuals vying for the million dollar ransoms. Although piracy began in response to the usurpation of Somalia's fishing waters by larger foreign vessels, it quickly became a money-making operation generating a "total ransom purse " of $82 million in 2009. We see interviews with the Somali refugees who fled from a camp in Kenya, and we see the devastating effects of piracy on ordinary citizens. The book includes an analysis of the UN efforts to end piracy, the hijacking of humanitarian food supplies, and even the expansion of criminal networks into other countries. Eichstaedt recognizes that Somalia's pervasive poverty and illiteracy pose major obstacles to change. His even-handed polished style, and impressive documentation let the horrors and ramifications of piracy speak for themselves. The only quibble is that an additional map of Africa is sorely needed. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
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