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Ocean Warrior: My Battle to End the Illegal Slaughter on the High Seas Paperback – March 1, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Captain Paul Watson grew up on Canada's east coast, is a founding member of Greenpeace; active supporter of the Amerindian movement; veteran of Wounded Knee; founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, once told me that I should never underestimate the power of the individual. "There has never been any positive social change initiated by governments or institutions," she said. "All progressive change has to come about because of the actions of individuals or small groups of individuals. Never believe that an individual does not have the power to change the world."

I intend to change the world. I believe, with Margaret Mead, that any single person can make a difference if he allows his passion to be expressed through action. My passion is the living Earth, especially her oceans. I am a conservationist, a protector of species and ecological systems, and a defender of the rights of nature.

I was raised by the sea in eastern Canada and, at an early age, ran off to be a sailor. I learned my trade on the decks of Scandinavian merchant vessels in a hundred exotic ports. In 1971, I sailed with a small group of activists to defend the environment from nuclear testing by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. We sailed with two ships, Greenpeace and Greenpeace Too. Although we didn't physically stop the detonation, we did publicize the issue and, in doing so, we created a new approach to solving problems. We created the Greenpeace Foundation, the first media-savvy environmental organization.

In 1973, my education as a warrior began when I served as a medic with the American Indian Movement during the occupation of Wounded Knee. We held the territory against the military might of the United States for 70 days, despite heavy gunfire and many casualties.

In 1977, after leading many Greenpeace campaigns, I left the Greenpeace Foundation. My experience with Greenpeace underscored Margaret Mead's belief that established institutions were not to be relied upon to bring about change. When Greenpeace was a collective of dedicated individuals it was an effective organization. Unfortunately, the collective became an institution and then a bureaucracy, and now it's part of the problem. I am critical of Greenpeace for reasons that will be clear to readers of this book. Sometimes I feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein, having helped to create a green monster that is now totally out of control. Greenpeace exists now only to perpetuate itself.

I now give my energy and leadership to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to channeling the zeal of concerned individuals into direct-action campaigns that challenge those who illegally exploit marine wildlife.

For more than 20 years I have tried to make the world a little better for those who will inherit it. I have fought for the rights of indigenous peoples in North and South America. I have tracked elephant poachers in East Africa, saved wolves in the Yukon, defended bison in Montana, crusaded for the rain forests in Brazil and saved tens of thousands of trees in British Columbia. I have been both a strategist and a tactician for the environmental movement.

I have made friends and enemies. I cherish both. My enemies are a challenge, my friends a source of strength.

To some I am a hero. To others I am a pirate, a villain, even a terrorist. The qualities that make me appear heroic to some also make me appear piratical to others. All heroes have enemies; the greater the hero, the greater, stronger and more numerous the enemies. I look forward to cultivating many more enemies in my career on behalf of the Earth.

I am not alone. Lisa Distefano, my wife, is another who has shown courage and resolve in the fight for ecological justice. Many people who have gone to sea with me have also been champions of the whales, dolphins and other citizens of the ocean. I think of engineers Peter Woof, Carroll Vogel, Myra Finkelstein and Jeremy Coon; officers Neil Sanderson, Peter Brown, Rod Coronado and Susana Rodriguez Pastor; supporters Cleveland Amory, Edward Abbey, Steve Wynn, Pridim Singh, Susan Bloom, Lavinia Currier, Robert Hunter and Farley Mowat. There are many others.

In this book, I have tried to explain what motivates people like us to serve and protect the natural world. At the same time, I have tried to show the political, social and philosophical opposition that serious environmental activists encounter.

This book documents the oceanic campaigns I have led since 1979. Campaigns to protect terrestrial ecosystems and land species are not included. My history with Greenpeace has been documented in other books by other people and in my book (written with Warren Rogers) Sea Shepherd, published in 1982. I have also not included an account of my campaigns to protect the seals off Labrador and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a story worth a book of its own. This book is devoted to my campaigns on behalf of whales, dolphins and the victims of pelagic drift nets. It is a story of action in a cause to protect life and serve the Earth.

My campaigns and those of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been less widely publicized than those of other groups, especially Greenpeace. This is at least partly because we have always devoted our resources to action rather than self-promotion. I hope to persuade readers of this book of something already known to the pirate whalers of Norway, the dolphin killers of Japan, the outlaw drift-netters of Taiwan and the pilot whale killers of the Faroe Islands: that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the most aggressive, no-nonsense and determined conservation organization in the world.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Key Porter Books (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550135996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550135992
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
One of the best books I have ever read! Without any question. Watson will make you laugh, cry, and most of all, get up and take action. He is one of the few humans I admire. For the most part I am so disgusted with my species I am ashamed to belong to the human race. Capt'n Watson and his crew are amoung the few souls I have any respect for. He is a true Mahatma. READ THIS BOOK!
I was taught humans are neither demons nor angels but occupy the spectrum in between. Well far too many of us gravitate towards one end of the spectrum don't we? And that's why our homeworld has become the cesspool that it is. If we make it out of this mess, it will be because of people like Watson.
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By A Customer on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I worked and sailed with Captain Watson for more than three years. You may not like the what he does or how he writes, but that doesn't matter one bit to him! His only concern is for those animals and ecosystems that he is fighting so hard to protect. He is an gifted leader and speaker, one of the world's most successful activists (if you count results rather than media attention), and has been an inspiration to and mentor of many others that fight for environmental justice.
Read this book, try to soak up some of his message and his passion - then do something with it.
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Format: Paperback
The previous reviewer on this page can't be serious. I can't imagine picking up this book with the idea of being entertained with Great Literature. It doesn't pretend to be; Paul Watson doesn't worry about being any kind of Author. But the book reads well enough, and anyways it is the content and moral force behind the words and behind the actions that matter to me. Paul has been my hero for twenty-one years, ever since he was kicked out of Greenpeace for trying to stop a thug from whacking a baby seal on the head. The purpose of this book is too give light to his efforts in this world; if a few facts are wrong - big f***ing deal! So get a copy editor! Three cheers for Paul Watson - and may the rest of us wake up in time to follow in his footsteps!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Paul Watson is nearly single handedly trying to save the world. While sometimes the tactics are a little less than elegant and rough around the edges, he taking on the destructors in what is probably the only truly effective way to do so. In my opinion, this is a story of a global hero which should be required reading in schools around the world. Thank God for Paul Watson and his Army (or should I say, Navy). Someone needs to take on the evil he faces down on the high seas. Governments should be doing the work that Paul Watson does, but most governments are cowardly pawns to special interests who could care less about the natural world we depend on for our very life. Paul Watson is trying to save your life and you should know about his struggle.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If we are to save ourselves from extinction, we must save the ecosystem and the plants and animals in it first.
If there were more people like Paul and less syncophant government officials we all would be much better off.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating account about the early history of this dedicated, passionate man who loves the Ocean more than life. The Ocean, and the magnificent beings who call the ocean home, ARE his life. Facing obstacles straight in the eye, from challenging inept or corrupt government officials to strategically ramming poachers, he never veers from his goal and mission. I have only the greatest respect and admiration for Captain Paul Watson, and this book certainly solidifies my support for this hero and for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
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