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'The Pirates of Somalia'

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  756 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
Somalia, on the tip of the Horn of Africa, has been inhabited as far back as 9,000 BC. 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 from North America is a forty-five-hour, five-flight voyage through Frankfurt, Dubai, ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Pantheon (first published July 1st 2011)
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Mar 28, 2016 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world yet this young journalist chose to begin his career by investigating the piracy that has been occurring in the Puntland region of Somalia during the 21st century. He interviewed pirates and the leaders of pirate gangs as well as government officials who were making an effort to end piracy. He also travelled to Europe to interview hostages who had returned to their homelands after many months spent captured at sea. The ransoms being paid ...more
Ina Cawl
Nov 20, 2015 Ina Cawl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As somalian individual i can say this
1-most somalian people are not pirates
2-pirates act like our national coast guards who guards our national coasts from illegal fisherman who comes from china and north korea
3-somalia is not all in war the northern parts of the country have relative peace
Sep 16, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 19, 2011 Glendora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Mar 08, 2016 M.J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Bahadur’s “The Pirates of Somalia”, an investigative take on piracy off the coast of Somalia from the 2000s into the early days of the 2010s, is entertaining and manages to carry the right balance of humanity and skepticism about the people at the centre of his book, but what it has in breadth it can sometimes lack in depth.

Late in the book, Bahadur mentions Sudir Ventakesh’s anthropological work on the crack gang of a Chicago tenement when discussing the surprisingly low payoff (relative to the
Andy Chu
Dec 18, 2011 Andy Chu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tariq Mahmood
Aug 19, 2013 Tariq Mahmood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2011 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Kevin Tracy
Jul 05, 2015 Kevin Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Such an interesting book and how the author went about getting the material to make it.
Jan 28, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lauren H
Dec 19, 2011 Lauren H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly interesting glimpse into the realities of the Somali pirates as well as a more indirect look at Somali culture. Sort of depressing yet informed analysis of the future not only of the pirate profession but of Somalia in general.
Michelle Shephard
Aug 15, 2011 Michelle Shephard rated it it was amazing
Impressive. And glad he made it out to tell the tale. He had luck on his side and some great contacts. Here's an edited Q&A I did with him for the Star:
Glenn Robinson
Dec 13, 2013 Glenn Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book on the Somalian Pirates. Eye-witness account by the writer of the culture of piracy, the failed-state status of Somalia and the quazi-independent states of Puntland and Somalialand.
Mar 22, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting look into the lives of the pirates that plague the coast of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and a might international armada is unable to stop it. In fact, way more money is spent on the prevention than actually goes out in ransoms.

A failed state, Islamic extremism, civil war, corruption and abject poverty end up feeding the desperation that leads to piracy for some. Khat addiction is a big factor as well. Some of the
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
Aug 30, 2011 Alana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Apr 17, 2012 Ines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
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
Oct 01, 2011 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2016 Shana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Freakonomics style read for somali pirates, entertaining and informative!
In this thorough research, Bahadur highlights the reasons for piracy and describes the daily activities of pirates.
Trey Wermes
May 04, 2015 Trey Wermes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly good example of a journalist writing a book, and it was written well. I wish Bahadur could have gotten a bit further inside the operations of the pirates, but I understand the complications with that.
Nov 21, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful details and reporting from personal experience rather than the standard superficial news reporting.

His coverage of the political and social conditions add color and credibility to his book.
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.
Oct 19, 2011 Caleb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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