Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: North Point Press
Release Date: May 2004
ISBN: 0-86547-581-4
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre: Nonfiction – History – Americas – United States – State & Local
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes:  Reviewer, Kristin Johnson, released her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in October 2003. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., is now available from Publish America.

The Outlaw Sea
By William Langewiesche

      "Even if we live within sight of the sea, it is easy to forget that our world is an ocean world.”  So writes William Langewiesche, who reminds us in The Outlaw Sea that while we are busy watching the skies for terror alerts, and increasingly concerned over the space program, the greatest, wildest frontier remains the sea. Certainly the success of the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on the novels of Patrick O’Brien, proves that our fascination with the sea remains unabated. It may not be a coincidence also that “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” was one of the top movies of 2003.

      However, the pirates Langewiesche writes about in this limited edition chapbook excerpt of The Outlaw Sea, scheduled to make waves in May 2004, are hardly charming Johnny Depp types, much less the gentlemen portrayed in last year’s The Pirate Next Door. Pirates such as Christianus Mintodo, who hijacked the Japanese ship the Alondra Rainbow, bear more resemblance to al-Qa’eda operatives than to roguish romance novel / Hollywood.

      At a time when President George W. Bush emphasizes, in the wake of the capture of Saddam Hussein, that the war on terror is not over, Langewiesche directs our attention away from the not-so-friendly skies to the free-enterprise untamed ocean, which the UN, once again with the best intentions but clearly out of its depth, has attempted to control with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). While Langewiesche gives credit to the idealism that spawned the IMO and its resulting bureaucracy, he skillfully demonstrates that the UN’s efforts are as effective as weapons inspections in Iraq. The reason? Ship’s crews and ship’s flags are as easy to fake as spammers’ e-mail addresses and pirates and terrorists don’t leave paper trails.

      In addition, there is the inherent environmental unpredictability of the ocean that collapsed the merchant ship Kristal. Langewiesche writes of the incident with Jon Krakauer / Sebastian Junger brilliance. If this preview is anything to go by, Langewiesche’s book will compel us so that we must go down to the sea again.