A Toronto-based journalist debuts with a rare inside look at the pirates preying on tourist and commercial ships off the coast of Somalia.

Present-day piracy in the region began two decades ago, writes Bahadur, at the onset of a civil war in the impoverished, Muslim state of Somalia. At first, coast dwellers—rebel groups, militias and warlords—extorted “fines” from foreign fishing vessels that had devastated the lobster population. When such vessels armed themselves, the pirates began attacking commercial fishing fleets. By 2009, the buccaneers won world attention with hijackings of three vessels: a Ukrainian transport ship with a cargo of tanks; a Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million in crude oil; and the American cargo vessel Maersk Alabama, an incident that ended with action by Navy SEAL snipers. Winning entrance to pirate enclaves through the son of Abdirahman Farole, president of the autonomous region of Puntland, the author spent six weeks conducting interviews. Traveling with bodyguards and sharing a supply of khat, a popular drug, Bahadur talked with pirate leaders, officials and former hostages. “We’re not murderers,” said Abdullahi Abshir, who has hijacked more than 25 ships. “We’ve never killed anyone, we just attack ships.” Another pirate explained how he turned piracy into a business by introducing investors, guidance technology and motherships from which pirates operate deep into the Indian Ocean. Bahadur captures the private lives of the pirates as well as their increasingly organized and sophisticated ways. A 2010 hijacking garnered a $9.5 million ransom for an oil tanker. Attacks now occur over such a huge ocean area that the multinational naval task forces patrolling off the 1,000-mile Somali coast remain “unable to stop a motley assortment of brigands armed with aging assault rifles.” A nicely crafted, revealing report.


Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-37906-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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