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VINE VOICEon May 8, 2015
I had the very great privilege to see Captain Richard Phillips speak in person at a university and I have to say, it was thrilling. His talk started out a tiny bit stilted and rehearsed and he seemed a tad nervous (kind of ironic that an audience would make him at all jittery after what he went through at sea), but as the talk went on, it got much more intense. For some reason he couched the talk in a sort of "business achievement" format (which I gather was probably suggested to him by his booking agency) and those parts were OK, but again, a bit stilted. But once he got back into the memories, once he began to relive his fears and his accomplishments (and failures) those five days at sea, the talk got very exciting.

I had bought this book before the talk but didn't get a chance to read it all the way through. But the next day I sat down and read the entire book and I'm so glad that I had it right there. I was able to use the book to relive parts of the talk and to better understand some of the fine points of his very brave adventure. When you see a movie of an event like this, you have to wonder how much is Hollywood and how much is reality, but after having seen him talk and having read this book, that movie is extremely close to portraying exactly what happened. In the Q&A after the talk, in fact, someone asked him that very question: How much of the movie was invented for drama? His reply was that while certain bits of the timelines were altered in small ways and certain events that happened weren't actually shown (in the movie and news stories there were only three shots fired, for example, but in reality many were fired), most of the movie was a very accurate reflection of actual events.

If that's the truth, and I believe it is, this is one very brave guy. In the face of near certain death, he put his ship's cargo and his crew ahead of his own life--and he figured out a way to outwit the pirates very early on. It was a gamble, but it saved everyone's lives.

I highly recommend both this book and the film. Books like this always have a ghost author involved because, let's face it, he's a sea captain not a writer, but it is his voice that comes through. And I really hope that the writing bug will get ahold of the Captain, because I'd love to hear more about the sea and about his life as a Merchant Marine.

If you get the chance to see Captain Phillips speak, do whatever you have to do to get there. In the meantime, what a great summer read this is--I can't wait to read it a second time. My only regret is that I didn't get an opportunity to ask him to sign my book! Next time.
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on March 2, 2014
Moving story because the heroic story was real. Well told story without excessive distractions. It was an interesting way to open the story with a cliff hanger and then flash back to the events leading up to it and continuing on to conclusion. His torturous ordeal on the life boat went for for several chapters was hard to stomach because he described his hardship and sufferings so vividly. Our momentary discomforts reading them, however, cannot compare with Captain Philips' for every second in that hellish life boat must have stretched like eternity because he did not know if he could survive the ordeal. We have witnessed the faith of one family in God strengthened because the outcome was positive. That's only natural with most people who make pacts with God during crisis. But more remarkable is the person whose faith in God is unshaken despite being stricken with adversities upon adversities upon adversities a 1000 times worse than that of the Philips' family. There was one such remarkable man. His name was Job.
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on October 16, 2013
I loved this story and so enjoyed reading it. He truly is, as I suspected, genuine and down to earth, he could be your neighbor, your brother, or the guy that coaches the softball team in town. I think that is what has drawn most people to this story, it could have been any one of us. I hung on this story from the minute I heard about it and felt terrible he was in that situation and was absolutely OVER THE MOON when he was rescued. It was a victory for all of us and told the world that we still care about our citizens, enough to send the Navy Seals in to rescue one in trouble. I've been doubting who we are for a long time now, but this gave me heart.

The book itself is easy reading, it is such an interesting career choice and you learn so much about being a Maritime sailor. Add to that the touching relationship with his wife and children and of course the amazing rescue and wonderful job by the Navy Seals makes this a great read. I couldn't put it down, even though I knew the result! I love the part where he says we are all much stronger than we know. Very uplifting.

You did great, Captain Phillips, I'm proud you're one of us and that people like you still exist. Loved the "Irish" tribe thing, too!! Those Irish roots go deep and definitely give us strength when times are tough. Thank you for a wonderful read.
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on March 16, 2015
Extremely interesting book. Gives a different view of the pirates than was shown in the movie. In the movie you were made to feel kind of sorry for the pirates, like they were just products of their environment and isn't that sad. In the book Captain Phillips tells it like it is; whatever happened to the pirates to make them total scum, I don't really care, because they were nothing but self-serving, brutal animals. Phillips used his brain to keep his crew alive and it's very interesting to learn the details of how he managed it all. I don't understand why cargo ships aren't loaded with guns and ammo to do away with any pirate that tries to pull the crap they do.
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on December 14, 2013
I first saw the film, then read the book. Only someone with a strong will and a highly developed ego could have behaved in the way Captain Phillips behaved, and survived. He was, and is, clearly a "by the book" ship's officer. His type are rarely universally popular with ships' crews.

The ordeal Phillips underwent at the hands of the sometimes unstable pirates tested every fibre of his physical and mental being, and it is evident that he drew strength from however submerged his spiritual beliefs may be.

The book captures well the tensions, the heat, and the awfulness of the claustrophobic space in the small boat in which he was held captive. The high seas will never be fully devoid of pirates and piracy, but it is only by active resistance to their illegal operations and brutality that freedom of the seas will have any hope of continued existence. Phillips, and those who came to his rescue, combined to say something very strong about the value of coolness, fortitude, and a refusal to be overwhelmed by overwhelming forces.

The quality of the writing isn't all that it might have been, but it is a story that in all its absence of a polished style, deserves to be read, and is ultimately uplifting and rewarding.
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on March 2, 2014
Captain Phillips tells his story as he lived it--as it happened, with the insight, feeling and emotion which only he could bring to this fascinating true life story. A self-effacing man who put his crew first--above even his own life--Captain Phillips evokes the self-sacrifice of hundreds of years of seamen, especially captains, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their crews. Captain Phillips is a hero--unique perhaps in our time, but then piracy is also unique (or ought to be) in our time. It is remarkable to think that in the twenty-first century we have pirates operating with impunity on the oceans of the world--holding hostage the nations of the world and collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom. How does one train for that? Captain Phillips did. He was prepared, perhaps better than most. He kept his head and, as a result, kept the lives of his crew.
Not enough praise can be given to the Navy Seals who operate behind the scenes but whose operations are seen through Captain Phillip's eyes, in the few, but important glimpses he gets of them. A wonderful true story told with compassion by the man who lived it.
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on October 31, 2013
I thought it was a heartfelt account about the pirate situation out there. We "landlubbers" don't realize the impact it has, unless you have a relative at sea who has been out there such as my son, who is now a chief engineer has been..

The descriptions of the ship activities were good too, and helped me to understand somewhat what it is like to "go shipping" in this day and age. You have to have a special calling in order to do so. Not everyone is attuned to that type of a life, being gone for months. There are good times and there are the not so good times.

Capt Phillips description of what it was like for his family too was very touching. It is difficult for families when the father has to work away at sea. The wife is really raising the children on her own for half the year. I have friends who have lived like this. It is difficult, those times apart. But with any vocation that is the life they chose.

All in all it was a very good book and I felt priviledged to have read it. My families prayers are always with the Merchant Mariners for threir safety and health, and for their wives who "captain" the home fronts and for their families.
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on March 12, 2014
The usual stuff: the book starts in the midst of the action to draw you in, then backtracks to the author's childhood for context. We learn nothing earth-shattering, except that he is the stereotypical Boston-Irish scrapper who is a hellion, but a good kid. Etc, etc. The narrative of the highjacking alternates with the story of the faithful wife watching it all unfold in the media at home. I skipped those parts. Then it's over. I read the whole thing while bedridden with the flu. Like most ghost-written stuff, it didn't tax my feverish brain, so it served its purpose.
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on January 25, 2017
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Captain Phillips's does a wonderful job of describing his days at the hands of the pirates. I watched the movie first and while it was an excellent film it left many unanswered questions. Captain Phillips answered most of these in his book, including the way his family realty with the situation and we were given a more in depth look at the characters of the other members of the crew. This book is a keeper!
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on March 16, 2014
I thought this was a very interesting book as I loved the movie that was based on this story. The only thing I didn't like is that Phillips had a tendency to go back and forth between what was happening to him and what was happening with the rest of his family. It was a little difficult to follow sometimes because there were no chapter breaks where this happened. Also, lawsuits are coming out from the crew that were on board with Captain Phillips because they say that he intentionally put them in danger since he knew about the pirate attacks on the Somali coast but did not come up with an alternate route. Whether it was his decision or the company's is a little sketchy. This book should be taken with a grain of salt until more details are made clear. The parts I found most interesting were his tales of marine school as I knew very little about the life of a merchant mariner. Worthwhile read in my opinion.
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