The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World
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The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  572 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Somalia, on the tip of the Horn of Africa, has been inhabited as far back as 9,000 B.C. Its history is as rich as the country is old. Caught up in a decades-long civil war, Somalia, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Getting there is a forty-five-hour, five-flight voyage through Frankfurt, Dubai, Djibouti, Bosasso...more
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Published (first published July 1st 2011)
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Before I start in on the contents of this fascinating book, I would just like to point out that (and pardon my language) this author has balls of steel. A few months fresh out of college, trying to break into journalism, he decides what better way to do that than to live in the heart of 'pirateville' - Puntland, and interview the headline making Somali pirates. Honestly, that simply blows my mind.

Bahadur combines the history of Somalia with interesting chapters on life in Somalia, and it's all...more
Andy Chu
Well researched and interesting... this guy definitely made something of a name for himself. He went to Somalia via the Ukraine multiple times and chewed khat with tons of pirates. The pictures of huge cargo ships sitting off of barren coastlines in Somalia are quite striking.

They were clearly trying to convince him that piracy is over in Somalia. There's evidence of it changing in response to military/diplomatic pressure, but it doesn't show signs of going away.

He draws an analogy the crack dea...more
My Review: In The Pirates of Somalia Jay Bahadur talks about his investigative mission into the heart of the Somali pirate network as if he were recounting a casual family vacation to a welcoming foreign countryside. Indeed, under circumstances that would prompt a fairly rapid and instinctual fleeing response from most people, Bahadur, seemingly unfazed, assumes a seat on the dirin and enjoys a relaxed day of Khat (the local drug of choice) and tea consumption with internationally identified cri...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
So this is the fourth book on Somali pirates that I have read and i have to say that this was one of the better ones. The author gets to interview 4 or 5 pirates, a few crew from a hijacked ship, locals--it just felt much more realistic. He was also attempting to debunk some of the myths about the pirates through his own observations and analysis. A lot of it was rehashing other history/attempted solutions that always seem to be apart of journalistic accounts like this. He pulls back further fro...more
Tariq Mahmood
Another book by an investigative Canadian journalist, this time analysing the piracy phenomenon in Somalia and Puntaland. I wanted to gain understanding of piracy in the 21st century and this book pretty much sated my desire with a very objective and humanistic portrayal of Somalian piracy without the gloss of large media news corporations like Al-Jazeera or CNN. The author found no pirate pleasure domes and Islamic militancy, instead discovered the pirates living in shacks and Islam (for once)...more
I am impressed.

First, because Bahadur is so young (though I think only someone young and naive would have had the guts to put themselves in this position in the first place), I did not expect it to be such a credible journalistic undertaking. He struck just the right balance of story-telling and researched fact.

And second, I certainly did not anticipate such a carefully crafted prose from someone of his inexperience. Bahadur is an exceptional writer, and if he doesn't get the healthy dose of fe...more
"The Pirates of Somalia" provides insights into the men who turned to piracy in the failed state of Somalia. Journalist Jay Bahadur spent months living among the people of Somalia, including the leaders of pirate groups, and explains the origins of piracy, how the acts are carried out, the reaction of shippers and affected nations, and describes the lives of the pirates. The answers are far from the images we might have in our minds from stories of pirates of the Caribbean.

There is much to lear...more
It's impressive that someone had the cojones to go over to Somalia and interview these guys, and it was nice learning some about the geo-political system of the "country," in the end though, it felt like the book could have been condensed to an article without losing too much. It turns out that the Somali pirates really aren't that interesting when it comes down to it. They hijack ships and use drugs a lot. I'm bailing on this one after about 1/4 of the book read and skimming bits of the rest.
Paul Pessolano
“The Pirates of Somalia” by Jay Bahadur, published by Pantheon Books.

Category – History

Many of us have wondered how a rag tag group of men from an impoverished country could gain the notoriety that “The Pirates of Somalia” have received over the last 10 years. Not only have they become famous but they have been able to overcome all efforts to put an end to their hijacking of ships going through the Gulf of Aden.

These modern day pirates are able to board ships with very little, if any, opposition...more
Wow. This book really is a different kind of thrill. I was stoked to hear the author/journalist was a Canadian. woop woop!
Anyways, this book was pretty unreal.... but it IS real. I didn't know a whole lot about the topic, just had seen/heard/read a few news snippets here and there, but Bahadur gives us a pretty good overview of this kind of (very dangerous) life. Im sure he has only scratched the surface and I almost feel like he was teasing us throughout the book. I personally wanted to hear li...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Interesting overview of the Somali pirate industry, the author showing that the brigands of the Horn of Africa are much less professional or organized as what is often assumed.

Bahadur shows that the often invoked root cause for these Somalis reverting to piracy, illegal foreign fishing off the Somali coast, might have been true, once, but doesn't apply to the reasoning for the current wave of pirates, these being primarily opportunists, attracted by the potential payoff. Illegal fishing does ex...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Pirates of Somalia, by Jay Dahabur, Narrated by Sunil Malhotra, produced by Random House Audio, Downloaded from

For centuries, stories of pirates have captured imaginations around the world. The recent bands of daring, ragtag pirates off the coast of Somalia, hijacking multimillion dollar tankers owned by international shipping conglomerates, have brought the scourge of piracy into the modern era. The Somali seas are now considered to be the most perilous in the world. Jay Bahadu...more
This book feels like a research paper I wrote back in university: analyze a country’s current situation and provide recommendations on how it can improve.

Bahadur did an excellent job with the research, traveling to Somalia and getting first-hand information regarding the situation with piracy in Somalia. It was very interesting to lead about the clan/government structure, and the reasons why piracy is so rampant in Somalia. It was also interesting to read about specific pirate attacks that Baha...more
LeeAnn Heringer
When I first heard about this book while the author was on his book tour, he was described as this kid who'd been unable to find a job as a journalist who had flown to Somalia. So, I had thought this book was an account of how he'd survived after doing this incredibly stupid thing. But in reality he was much smarter than that, he planned his adventure so he had a greater than 50 percent chance of coming home. He hooked up with a local agency that provided him with UN trained bodyguards, secure h...more
Front Cover: Lone pirate with a gun looking at his next ship victim at sea.
Back Cover: Excerpt from the book; no accolades anywhere

Big Print, Much white space

Set up like an adventure novel - pirating has been in the news a lot - Sensationalism

Chapter have titles such as "Into the Pirates' Lair"
Map of Somalia included

First Person, Easy to Read, Folksy Tone.
Jay Bahadur is a ballsy kid fresh from college that wants to break into journalism and what a better way to do it than obtain interviews from some of the most notorious criminals in the world. With a few connections and naiveté of youth he travels to Somalia to confirm impressions and tell the story of these modern day pirates.

Bahadur does a great job of framing the problem and clarify things that have become glorified or exaggerated in the media. My impression is that the pirates started off a...more
I would like to start off by saying that I think this book is worth a read and the policies that Bahadur ends up proposing in the end seem like they should be given consideration by the US and the EU. That said, I was underwhelmed by this book as a piece of reporting. I did learn so much about Puntland and Somali pirates, but as I read through the work I found myself questioning everything because there was not an appropriate amount of citation of details or instances of the author looking criti...more
Russ Choma
A magazine article worth of material, stretched too far. Bahadur brags about going straight to Somalia after college without going to J-school or experience in journalism, and the book reads like it.
Bahadur gets credit for having gone to some lengths to write a book about the Somali pirates. He basically shows up in Puntland (the semi-independent area at issue) after some phone calls and emails and sets out trying to talk with people and learn the facts on the ground. Somali life is notoriously clannish and people are not always fully honest about what's actually going on, but he talks to enough people where he seems able to get to the truth about many aspects of the piracy. That all being...more
A peek inside the world of the Somali pirate. Not something I ever hope to experience.
Drew Dube
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Pirates of Somalia (2011) is an interesting and enjoyable look at modern piracy in the Horn of Africa. The author went to Somalia, living with and traveling among the locals for several weeks, a colorful experience that most writers are unable to match. His narrative employs many effective components, including interviews with former pirates and criminal operatives, historical records of Somalia’s recent past, statistics and news reports, descriptions of the failed state’s warring regions, p...more
This book could have been so much better! I appreciated the author's knowledge and the factual information he provided, but it would have been a much more enjoyable reading experience if he'd incorporated more of the actual stories of piracy. I'm sure there are hundreds of people who could be interviewed about their experience as a captive on a ship hijacked by Somali pirates. The part of the book about the capture and ransom of the Victoria was the most engaging, and could serve as a model for...more
Dennis Willingham
An excelent primer on the pirate operations in Somalia including background on how and why they started, how the fractured goverment of Somalia inadvertantly supports piracy, the economics, the changing faces of the pirates and how piracy may be moving more toward an organized crime/terrorist model and what might be tried to curtail piracy. The author spent time in Somalia interviewing pirates and others involved with both the support and prosecution of pirates and presents a detailed picture of...more
This book will give you the inside story of why piracy started in Somalia and how it grew to the epidemic that it is now.I came away with a better understanding of the how a simple protest against illegal fishing turned into a booming business for a band of men hell bent on getting what they think they deserve.
The information is broken down so every can understand how the basic operations work and you get both sides of the story,pirates and hostages.
Good read if you've ever been curious about th...more
Suzanne Auckerman
Never quite understood the pirates, but this book explained it very well and has lots of references to corroborate his theories. Between this book, Kaplan's Surrender or Starve, Eliza Grizzwold's The Tenth Parallel, and The Blue Nile (can't remember that author), I am finally beginning to understand what is going on in that part of the world. It is very scary and I think most people that not much can happen in those countries, they are deserts, but not true.

soooo i really wanted to learn more about somalian pirates & understand why & how they end up as modern day pirates, but this book made me realize...i didn't want to know THAT much about it. there was a bit too much detail given to the economics of piracy for the boat owners and the shippers and the various countries involved that made chunks of this quite dull. i did however find the interviews with the pirates & the descriptions of their lives very illuminating.
The author travels to Somalia - not an easy feat - and interviews the movers and shakers of a failed state and an internationally illegal organization - not an especially safe activity. Bahadur takes us into a world and a venture marked both by desperation and greed, violence and hope.

On the scene, in-depth, in-person reporting of a little understood or accurately reported series of events. Bahadur risks much to bring us an accurate picture blemishes and all.
Shalon Montgomery
This book is a five for me, but will not be for most people. The interviews with pirates and non-pirates gives good insight into the piracy off the Somalia coast. The book informs you of the obvious motives and reasons for piracy, it states why companies continue to put up with it and why the government of the pirates will not or can't stop it. You could read a more informative book on Somali pirates, but I don't think any will be as entertaining.
Very interesting look into a world I knew little about. I think the author did a great job showing both the actions of and the motives of the pirates, those who support them and those who are caught up in the struggle while at the same time not being suckered by flowery words. Its not massively in depth but gives you a great view of the pirates, their lives and their actions. You come away knowing a lot more then you did prior to starting the book.
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