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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I use it in my class at the Naval War College, January 13, 2010
This is a standard work on the subject of maritime piracy and maritime terrorism from the world's top expert on the subject.

I use this book for teaching my course on Global Maritime Security. What I like most about Dr. Murphy's volume is that it is detailed and comprehensive, but written in an engaging and brisk style. I just don't know of any other author who is as equally adept at analysis of Somali piracy and as Sri Lankan maritime terrorism, and who understands why the issues matter for maritime security. It kind of reminds me of a high quality documentary on paper. There are a number of pithy historical references to notorious piracy or maritime terrorist incidents, explaining what happened and why, and then placing them in the context of warfare, failed states or politics ashore. The book covers the range of irregular or unconventional threats at sea, including pirates (in Asia, Africa and elsewhere) and maritime terrorism, trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, maritime international organized crime, and maritime drug trafficking. Small Boats, Weak States.... created quite a buzz in the maritime security community because the author is an insider--an expert in both African and Asian maritime security, but who takes a global perspective. I heard Dr. Murphy speak at a conference, and the stories and analysis draw you in to an incredible world of crime, drug trafficking and irregular maritime warfare at sea. The book will be of special interest to people interested in a sophisticated analysis of maritime security, naval historians and researchers and those interested in international organized crime. Also, the author had a lot of credibility with me because I saw a great article he wrote for Jane's Intelligence Review a few years back, and this book has the same sort of reliance on interesting or information from "non attribution" interviews with experts all around the world--kind of a maritime investigative reporter, but with a deeper knowledge of the issue. I think this hefty volume would also draw in general audiences interested in problems of globalization, international relations and contemporary history. The book is kind of like Dangerous Waters, but the discussion is a bit more "meaty" and, to me, that makes it more interesting and less superficial.

I am a bit baffled by the reviewer who said it was "all about law" - I don't get that, since the book only has 6 pages on piracy (see contents below). Here is the table of contents, which I pulled off Columbia International Affairs Online:

Introduction 1
1. What is Piracy? 7
A slippery concept 7
Piracy, politics and corruption 10
Piracy in international law 11
Piracy as an international interest 17
Piracy: ancient and modern 21
2. Contemporary Piracy: The Who, The Why and The Where 23
What are pirates after? 23
Reasons for piracy 24
What types of ship are attacked? 45
Methods of attack and boarding 47
The cost of piracy 49
State piracy 54
How many attacks are there and who counts them? 59
Weaknesses with the figures 65
Southeast Asia 72
South China Sea 93
Bay of Bengal-Bangladesh 97
South America 98
Yacht piracy 100
East Africa-Somalia 101
West Africa-Nigeria 111
Global phenomenon, local problem, diffuse challenge 123
3. Contemporary Piracy: Irritation or Menace? 129
Pirate typology
Vulnerability assessment 132
Threat assessment 134
Objectives 138
Environmental risk 153
Violence 155
Access to markets 157
Links to insurgent or terrorist groups 159
Level of official support and corruption 161
Links to organised crime 162
Contemporary piracy: irritation or menace? 177
4. Maritime Terrorism 183
What is terrorism? 183
What is maritime terrorism? 185
Terrorist attacks at sea: the story so far 185
Seafarers' attitudes 190
A global threat on a global medium? 196
Categories of maritime targets 199
The weapons and methods of maritime terrorists 231
Ships as delivery systems for weapons 259
The global shipping network; a vulnerable system 264
Multiple targets and multiple problems 274
5 Maritime Terrorists 277
Terrorists at sea 277
The principal actors 279
The main reasons to go to sea: movement and supply 345
What makes some groups successful? 358
The obstacles confronting the maritime terrorist 369
Why do terrorists use the sea? 373
6. Assessing the Threat 377
So where is the threat or risk? 377
Disorder and the sea: out of sight, out of mind 381
Maritime disorder and initiatives for tackling it 382
The restless sea 384
What might change? 386
Conclusion: assessing the threat 408
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most insightful, thorough and interesting book on piracy, September 24, 2010
This review is from: Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (Columbia/Hurst) (Paperback)
Dr. Murphy's book is a must-have for anyone interested in piracy and maritime security.

Piracy has grabbed considerable attention over the past several years due to the spike in attacks off the Somali coast. Is it a global phenomenon, a regional challenge or a local issue? Dr. Murphy eloquently discusses why we should care about piracy by explaining what piracy is, what the pirates seek, what motivates their behavior, the types of ships being attacked and the true costs of this illicit behavior.

One example of how Dr. Murphy cogently synthesizes complex issues is his summary of the seven factors that encourage piracy, including (1) legal and jurisdictional opportunities; (2) favorable geography; (3) conflict and disorder; (4) under-funded law enforcement/inadequate security; (5) permissive political environments; (6) cultural acceptability/maritime tradition and (7) reward.

Incredibly researched, Dr. Murphy's book is valuable to anyone interested in international affairs, national security, maritime security, piracy or terrorism. It is written for both those without previous exposure to maritime security and those that work these issues on a daily basis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Stellar And Deeply Relevant Work On The Problems Of Piracy And Maritime Terrorism, January 29, 2013
Nathan Albright (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (Columbia/Hurst) (Paperback)
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Columbia University Press in exchange for a review. I requested this book directly from them after it was highly praised by an author whose work I previously reviewed for the Naval Historical Institute. No bribery or corruption was necessary for a good review.]

In Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money, British scholar Martin Murphy seeks to untangle a difficult set of problems: what sort of threat do piracy and maritime terrorism present to the world and its shipping, what evidence suggests that terrorists and criminals might work together in some fashion, and what can be done about these threats? It is a book so meticulously researched that after more than 400 pages of heavily footnoted material the book places its substantial bibliography in an online .pdf rather than making an already long book even longer. If one has a personal, academic, or professional interest which would require a knowledge of piracy, the vulnerabilities of ocean-borne shipping networks, or maritime insurgency and terrorism around the world, this book is an essential read.

There are many strengths to this work which combine to make it a seminal work in its field. Key to its strengths is a keen attention to detail, a richly humane approach to the victims of piracy and terrorism, and a sense of nuance and precision that allows the author to avoid overly sweeping pronouncements while keeping close to the evidence at hand in providing deeply insightful case studies of the regional components of the piracy and maritime insurgency/terrorism picture. Whether Murphy is talking about corrupt Indonesian police officials engaging in piracy on government vessels, or the horrors of continual rape and exploitation of Vietnamese boat people on a Thai island, or the efforts by anti-Israeli groups or the Tamil Tigers to exploit the sea in their search for greater military capability and a way to attack their opponents in a potentially vulnerable area, Murphy manages to put a human face on an often neglected problem while keeping his arguments and discussion firmly backed by excellent research.

During the course of this lengthy and deeply fascinating work, Murphy explores why so few massive maritime terrorist incidents have occurred--largely because landlubbers tend to ignore coastal matters and because the existing kidnapping and routine acts of piracy in many parts of the world have simply not attracted the attention of most people. The author also presents some of the ways in which terrorism and piracy share common interests and common threats, as terrorists use criminal means (including the trafficking of humans, drugs, and arms) to finance operations, as both criminals and terrorists use corruption and the chaos and anarchy of weak states to gain freedom of operation and secure bases of operation where they are safe from interdiction. The author, in light of these threats, urges greater cooperation between nations to deal with these common threats, urges flag states (nations which allow ships to put their flags on ships) and coastal nations to take their responsibilities seriously, and urges resilience to replace complacency concerning vulnerabilities in the systems of transportation we depend on in our world. The advice of this book is timely, the arguments of the book sound, and the evidence both deeply disturbing and well-researched. This book deserves to be read by those whose interests lead them into a deeper understanding of logistics and supply networks and the threats they face from both criminal and terrorist enterprises.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly Study of Specialized Interest, December 12, 2009
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The author seems mostly concerned with piracy and terrorism on the seas as a legal matter. If this is your concern, then it may be a valuable book. It is clearly not directed to a general audience,
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Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (Columbia/Hurst)
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