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A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea Paperback – January 18, 2011
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Starred Review. In this fascinating, suspenseful first person account of his capture by Somali pirates, which dominated news media for five days in April 2009, captain Phillips brings the growing pirate threat (up 20 percent in 2009's first quarter) to life. An experienced Merchant Marine, Phillips was recently made captain of the cargo vessel Maersk Alabama, and, like all captains, was weary of the threat from pirates: "since 2005... captains had been going out fifty, then one hundred... then six hundred miles" to avoid the Somali coast. His feeling that "if pirates got onboard, it was all over" proves unfortunately correct; it took the armed criminals just five minutes to board the ship and take the bridge. Phillips has a sailor's penchant for the dramatic, which he puts to good use alternating between his own five-day ordeal-replete with Navy SEALs and a daring escape attempt-and the plight of his family in Vermont, watching the drama unfold on cable news. Despite his harrowing experience, Phillips stays afloat with steadfast faith and an unfailing sense of humor that are, ultimately, rewarded. Phillips's story is not just riveting and timely, but also an informative, heartening look at perhaps the least-celebrated branch of the U.S. military, the Merchant Marines. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* It was absolutely inevitable that Captain Philips of the Maersk Alabama would write about the hijacking of his ship by Somali pirates and his ordeal as their hostage. A mariner of 30 years’ experience when his ship was taken, he had in place all the security precautions to keep his crew safe and hidden. This left him as the only possible hostage and led to an ordeal of several days in a lifeboat in the hands of pirates whom he portrays, with compassion and balance, as alternately conciliatory, vicious, and simply not all there. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy assembled a task force large enough to fight a small war, and tension steadily rose, as did Phillips’ fear for his life. The pirate leader decamped, and the other three died in a classic hostage rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs. Phillips then entered the media typhoon his family and friends had already been enduring—his wife, Andrea, deserves her own laurel wreath for invincible loyalty and determination—but in the end escaped that, too. He is last seen hanging out the washing because Andrea has to make it to work, and one closes the book with an overpowering sense that this time, for once, the good guys won. --Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
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.
Self sacrifice, dedication, loyalty, mental toughness, smart, quick thinking, problem solver, goal/mission oriented, compassionate, family man, credible, trustworthy, respected,etc., and etc.
Richard's career counsellor was a well dressed man in a thousand dollar leather jacket with wads of hundred dollar bills and riding in his taxi cab. The man told Richard to take him where the action is; broads, booze, and babes. Richard dropped him off and asked him "What do you do?" The man said, "Merchant marine" and handed him a business card with the address of the Merchant Marines. The rest is history.
Thank you for sharing your incredible and riveting story and Blessings.