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Deadly Waters: Inside the Hidden World of Somalia's Pirates

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  861 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
For centuries, stories of pirates have captured the imagination of people everywhere. But the recent gangs of daring, ragtag pirates off the coast of Somalia, hijacking huge ships owned by international conglomerates, have brought the scourge of piracy into the modern era. While the world sees nothing but opportunistic bands of local bandits running riot, Jay Bahadur, the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Profile Books(GB)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ina Cawl
Jul 28, 2015 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
Unfortunately, a monotone narrator made for a dull audiobook experience but the content was fascinating. Tons of historical, environmental, social, economic, and political factors at play when it comes to piracy. There is a function for every behavior...even being a pirate. It's called survival.

My favorite quote:
"Imprisoning them was like trying to use a bailer to drain the ocean: for each pirate captured by the authorities, there were dozens of desperate young men on shore ready to rush in and
Dec 22, 2013 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
Sep 15, 2011 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
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
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
Tariq Mahmood
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2011 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
Jan 25, 2016 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 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
Jul 24, 2011 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
Dec 13, 2011 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
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.
Lauren H
Dec 19, 2011 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
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:
Kevin Tracy
Jul 05, 2015 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.
Glenn Robinson
Nov 19, 2013 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.
Kevin Pedersen
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tacky title, but this feels like a one-stop shop for whatever you might want to know about pirates in Somalia. Interviews with real pirates, with the victims of pirates, with people who live around pirates. A look at the international backdrop for how piracy thrives, and local stories about where it came from. One interesting part gets really nitty-gritty into the economics of how much it might cost to run a pirate gang.

One big takeaway is the effect of khat (a local drug) on all of this. It see
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
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
Apr 17, 2012 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
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
Aug 24, 2011 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
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
Sep 18, 2011 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
Oct 19, 2011 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
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.

If you are searching for your next captivating re
Dennis Willingham
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
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
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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“He claimed to employ different tactics for different ships, but the basic strategy was crude in its simplicity. In attack groups spread amongst several small and speedy skiffs, Boyah and his men approached their target on all sides, swarming like a water-borne wolf pack. They brandished their weapons in an attempt to frighten the ship's crew into stopping, and even fired into the air. If these scare tactics did not work, and if the target ship was capable of outperforming their outboard motors, the chase ended there. But if they managed to pull even with their target, they tossed hooked rope ladders onto the decks and boarded the ship. Instances of the crew fighting back were rare, and rarely effective, and the whole process, from spotting to capturing, took at most thirty minutes. Boyah guessed that only 20 per cent to 30 per cent of attempted hijackings met with success, for which he blamed speedy prey, technical problems, and foreign naval or domestic intervention.
The captured ship was then steered to a friendly port – in Boyah's case, Eyl – where guards and interpreters were brought from the shore to look after the hostages during the ransom negotiation. Once the ransom was secured – often routed through banks in London and Dubai and parachuted like a special-delivery care package directly onto the deck of the ship – it was split amongst all the concerned parties. Half the money went to the attackers, the men who actually captured the ship. A third went to the operation’s investors: those who fronted the money for the ships, fuel, tracking equipment, and weapons. The remaining sixth went to everyone else: the guards ferried from shore to watch over the hostage crew, the suppliers of food and water, the translators (occasionally high school students on their summer break), and even the poor and disabled in the local community, who received some as charity. Such largesse, Boyah told me, had made his merry band into Robin Hood figures amongst the residents of Eyl.”
“For the masses of unemployed and resentful local youth, piracy was a quick way to achieve the respect and standard of living that the circumstances of their birth had denied them.” 0 likes
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