Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” as Want to Read:
A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,232 Ratings  ·  448 Reviews
"I share the country's admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans."
--President Barack Obama It was just another day on the job for fifty-three-year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, the United States-flagged cargo ship which was carrying, among other things, food and agri
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Hyperion Books (first published 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Captain's Duty, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Captain's Duty

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Nov 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
In this supposedly true story, Captain Richard Phillips tells of his ordeal with a group of Somali pirates who boarded his ship and took him hostage.
I bought this book because I had seen the movie recently and really enjoyed it and was keen to get the full story. That was my mistake. As I started reading I noticed something was wrong. This guy isn't Tom Hanks, not even close!

I think I need to attempt to explain why the movie was good and the book wasn't. I apologise if this annoys anyone, I kno
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very intense read. Lots of action, & some very scary moments as Captain Phillips re-lives his time as a hostage of Somalian pirates.It was a nightmare situation and there were many moments when he really thought his time had come! A well written moving account, would recommend.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
I retired from a 30-year career as a shipmaster in 2001 and followed this 2009 incident closely. I'm rarely sorry about spending money on a book, but this time I am.

While I wasn't in the captain's position and won't second-guess him, "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirate, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea" is about as eye-rolling as an autobiography in which Bernie Madoff describes himself as a financial hero.

Hannah (Vamp of Savannah)
Oct 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
There are no words to describe how frustratingly stupid this book-the whole situation was. From the time Phillips told one of his men that if he were scared of pirates he never should have gotten on board the boat to the part where he actually told his crew to come to the bridge (and hoped that they wouldn't)to the end where the captain credits Obama with having had a huge hand in getting him out of the pirates hands I just wanted to scream.
It's like Captain Smith and the iceberg warnings all o
Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was the expected coda to Captain Phillip's fifteen minutes of fame. I would like to have learned a little more about the Navy Seals role in his rescue, but Phillips was apparently instructed to minimize
it. In addition, his narrative raised some unanswered questions, especially about the mysterious Leader, who disappears without further mention.

An uneven chrosnicle, but quite readable. It makes one hope that sterner measure are now in place to deal with future would-be Somali pirates.
Doreen Petersen
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Pirates is the present day. Really? They're in speedboats armed with AK47's but the ships they try to hijack are far bigger than their boat. All you have to do if you see them is turn the wheel really hard and plow right over them. Needless to say I am glad Captain Phillips survived this harrowing ordeal.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
After seeing the movie Captain Phillips, I got this book wanting to know more about the capture of the Maersk Alabama, the US cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009, and the ordeal of Captain Phillips himself, taken hostage by the pirates and held in the ship's lifeboat for four days until he was rescued by Navy SEALs. Take my advice: never try to learn more about heroes; it's almost always disappointing.

About half a chapter into this book, I was thinking, "hmmm, this guy is kind
Richard Phillips is not a writer, he’s a sailor. He makes a great deal of his devotion to his ship – whichever ship it happens to be at whichever point in his career – and to this end the part of the book before the Somali pirates board the Maersk Alabama is filled with anecdotes of his life on and off the sea. The point of these anecdotes is surely to assure the reader that the ship and the men on board are his responsibility, and give a sense of who the man is. Unfortunately they paint him out ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty is a nonfiction book about the seizure by pirates of the U.S. cargo ship Maersk Alabama of the coast of Somalia in 2009. The book is told from the captain’s point of view. It spans a period of time from the week before the cargo ship set sail to after he gets home. Half of the book is about what really happened on the ship and the other half is about his emotional struggles being separated from his family. The book was made into a hit movie ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first thing I did after finishing the book was to find out who wrote the screenplay. Turns out it was Billy Ray who also wrote the screenplay for Hunger Games. All I can say is that the movie follows the book so closely that at first it seemed I didn't need to bother reading the book.

However, as I went along I found that the book brings out what Rich Phillips' wife Andrea was going through back home. Personally, I must have been living under a rock when all of this happened because I can on
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, what Vermont has a lot of. An ordinary person living through an extraordinary situation often makes a good story. In this case it does. Very glad for Captain Phillips and his entire family that it worked out as well as it did.
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
My wife and I saw the movie "Captain Phillips" first which inspired me to look for the book on Amazon's Kindle store. It was $2.99 at the time and the movie was so good (in our opinion) that for the price I was compelled to purchase and get more of the story.

I was hoping for a more accurate version of events (or at least a more complete one) knowing that a Hollywood movie starring Tom Hanks was going to either leave things out or embellish. As I've grown older I'm more forgiving of that now as a
Julie Dennis
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book for the weekend...some interesting information about merchant ships and how the men on the ships have to form instant trusting and interdependent relationships among each other to survive.

I've never considered the risk that they face to do their job every day and how in times of war, the navy and merchant ships work dependently and independently of each other. The navy depends on them for ammunition while the merchant ships require protection in order to complete the deliveries. All o
Jake Kieffer
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
“A Captain’s Duty” by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty is a very dramatic non fiction novel on how days at sea with pirates turns into hell. Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is on his cargo ship doing his job he has done for years now. But one day off the coast of Somalia multiple Somali pirates with powerful AK 47’s ambushed the boat and took everyone on the boat held hostage. Phillips and his crew have to withstand multiple life threatening incidents with dramatic and scorchin ...more
Oct 28, 2013 added it
Shelves: kindle, nonfiction
I saw Captain Phillips, and ran home and downloaded this because I was curious about how similar the film was to the real events. I guess it's not surprising that Tom Hanks came across more admirable than a real person, but the actual Phillips does portray himself as scrappier and cockier and less statesmanlike than the Most Likable Guy in Hollywood's version of him. Fascinating to read, although very short and I kind of wanted more backstory about how ships and crews function in the modern Merc ...more
Phillips' memoir primarily covers the time when he was being held hostage in his container ship's lifeboat by Somali pirates.

But an unexpected pleasure is that Phillips also relates stories of his past and family life that help explain how he found himself in such a situation, how & maybe why he behaved as he did when pirates boarded his ship, and what was happening back home during his ordeal.

toward the end, he explains the significance of a Kenyan priest's saying from a homily the family
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read half the book and then watched the movie and then read the rest of the book. First off, I loved the movie. It was excellent. I also liked the book as a whole. There were a few things that bugged me about the book if I want to get picky. I was on page 110 before the pirates attacked! I get that you want to give some history and background of Captain Phillips but 100 pages was too much. Also, during the ordeal they kept going back and forth between the Captain and his wife. I'm not sure too ...more
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
In some ways this put me in mind of another recently read book-Highest Duty by Capt. Sullenberger. Both of these books give extensive details of dramatic incidents that played out live on TV. Both about modern American heroes, and both about men whose past training and experiences truly prepared them for their defining moments. This story is told in the words of Captain Richard Phillips-from a dramatic beginning the narrative cuts back and forth between his earlier life and the infamous hijackin ...more
Oct 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am extremely disappointed with this book. Phillips comes across as this arrogant a-hole who expects us all to be like "wow- no one has ever survivied something so crazy." Wrong. I suggest he reads Unbroken and perhaps gain a bit of humility and perspective. I do not mean to be insensitive to what he went through, but this book makes me dislike him more than appreciate his ordeal. I will still go see the movie, but I struggled to finish the book and not throw it down in disgust because of the p ...more
Dave Thompson
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
This predictable book follows the basic format of these types of bio stories. There's nothing earth-shattering that you didn't already know, outside of Phillips' claim of being a saucy bad boy growing up in hard-scrabble Massachusetts.

But if you need a break from books on more intellectually taxing subjects, this will remind you why you challenge yourself with your choices in books. But it won't be a totally wasted 4 hours of your life. The way Phillips (and importantly, his tough and imaginati
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Certainly a different book than the type I normally read. Found it interesting although it slowed down in the 2nd half of the book in my opinion. Glad that Phillips didn't spend too much time on his background and personal training. Actually expected a little more from him about how he prepared his crew for the attack by pirates and how they all behaved during the takeover. And I also thought he'd have some sort of "recommendations" chapter for boats sailing through these waters in the future. O ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. After loving the movie I wanted to know more about the story. I knew NOTHING about the merchant marines and in fact had heard the term before but couldn't have told you who they were. Duh. Anyway, there was a lot of interesting stuff about the whole merchant shipping industry and backstory on Captain Phillips. Of course, the movie didn't portray exactly what happened during the pirate attack but it was pretty close--better than MOST book adaptations. I thought it was a ...more
I was riveted to Captain Phillips story as it was unfolding and his book was just as riveting. I pickd up the book and was halfway through the book and the night before I put it down to go to sleep. His courage, stamina, and leadership are amazing and Captain Phillips shows how those characteristics with a will to win can do. Captain Phillips and his family have my respect,and admiration. This book is recommended for anyone interested in leadership and anyone who has a love of the sea.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing story of endurance, keeping your wits about you under pressure and saving lives in the line of duty. I LOVED this story. I have utmost respect for this captain and what he went through to save the lives of his crew and come home to his family. He prepared his ship well and his crew stepped up and did their best. I'm glad it turned out well. The language is appropriate for a sailor in a crisis. :)
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Awesome. I'd seen the movie first (and really enjoyed it), so I began reading with a little trepidation - would the book be as good as the movie?

What a delight - the book is as good as the movie, just from a different angle. The film is created from the camera's perspective; the book is written from the author's perspective: How he felt, more background about his relationship with his wife. I got more of the sense of the personality underlying the professional persona. Highly recommended.
Sophie Makanoff
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it isn't the most well written book I have ever read, Captain Phillip's story and courage makes up for that. What he went through and how he held himself together is truly unbelievable. After seeing the movie I wanted to read the book because it was so inspiring and I am glad I did. There are a few big differences between the real story and the movie, plus you get to know the Captain better. This story is just amazing and makes one very proud to live in the U.S.A.!
Luiz Cruz
I really liked the book, but maybe Mr Richards could include more about the Alabama's crew views and during the incident as almost nothing as per the other hands' point of view is there. More details from the Chief Officer for example, running around the vessel, and from the ones who mustered inside the steering gear would fit better in the book than lots of his stories about his wife.
Aspen Junge
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
A harrowing retelling of Captain Phillips' experience as a merchant marine, particularly during the period when his ship was captured by Somali pirates and he was taken hostage. The story has enough inherent drama that the authors didn't have to punch it up any, so it's smoothly paced without being forced. A good adventure that could have ended tragically.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book provides insight to the normally-hidden world of the Merchant Marine. Captain Phillips kept his cool in the face of extremely hostile pirates and conditions. The U.S. Navy intervened to save Captain Phillips and his crew, but The Captain deserves a lot of credit for saving his ship, cargo, and crew because of his [brave act and] actions.
Stephen Groenewegen
Oct 22, 2013 rated it liked it
A straightforward and gripping account of an ordeal at sea. You get a good feel for the man at the centre of the action but the resolution with respect to the pirates is very rushed. I'm sure this is how it happened, but I am curious to see if it is presented any differently in the Billy Ray scripted film adaptation, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips 2 3 May 15, 2018 04:03AM  
Around the Year i...: A Captain's Duty, by Richard Phillips 1 12 Apr 20, 2016 02:17PM  
Pretty Damn Good 3 13 Jan 25, 2014 09:04AM  
  • Code Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs
  • The Phantom Major
  • The Real "Bravo Two Zero"
  • Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper
  • First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of America's Most Elite Unit
  • The Dogs of War
  • Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic
  • The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins
  • Cornered: Hijinks, Highlights, Late Night and Insights
  • Enterprise: America's Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II
  • Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead
  • Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz
  • Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad
  • Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse
  • Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response
  • Seized: A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters
  • The Torn Branch
  • Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Phillips is a 1979 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and became captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009. He served as captain of the MV Maersk Alabama during its hijacking by Somali pirates in April 2009.
“It was like the engineer had broken some code of the sea that said you must assist pirates in taking over your ship.” 0 likes
“(Without the merchant marine, there is no Walmart.)” 0 likes
More quotes…