DANGEROUS WATERS: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas

John S. Burnett, Author . Dutton $24.95 (332p) ISBN 978-0-525-94679-3

For many, the word "pirate" only conjures up kitschy images of mustachioed villains with eye patches and gold hoop earrings. But as Burnett, a freelance journalist and former United Press International reporter, shows in this original and intriguing work, piracy is alive and well. A firsthand experience with pirates—in which his private sloop was attacked near Borneo—inspired Burnett to explore the modern world of thievery at sea. He hitches rides on two ships, a British carrier transporting crude oil from the Middle East to Western and Asian refineries, and a tanker carrying jet fuel and diesel oil to Vietnam. He describes some hair-raising close calls and shares his research along the way. Pirates, he explains, are often "gangs of poverty-stricken young men" (or sometimes women) employed by warlords, organized crime syndicates and terrorists. They attack mostly cargo ships, but anything might be fair game. The most likely spots for attacks are off the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia. He also "dramatizes" some recent, extremely brutal real-life examples of piracy. As Burnett shows, the most terrifying scenario is that of a major terrorist attack on the seas. The USS Cole incident suggests that big ships are really quite vulnerable—especially since much of the world's sea cargo is oil. Burnett's well-researched investigation is spiked with plenty of seafaring action. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-452-28413-5
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