Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review -- Blood Ransom by John Boyle

Blood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracyBlood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracy by John Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Bloomsbury USA and author John Boyle. Many thanks for making the advance copy of this book available to me at my request in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Piracy… reminds us of the buccaneering Jack Sparrow and his group of rag tags aboard the Black Pearl. Treasure hunters, swashbuckling adventurers romanticized by Hollywood to bigger and bigger glory.  Pirates are something people thought active in olden days, the 1700's and 1800's at the height of imperial glory. Something nostalgic…

Not true, just look at the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, aboard a ship carrying cargo, chances are 8 out 10 times you would have seen groups of 6-7 people aboard a fast moving skiff firing AK-47s and RPGs at your ship. Who are these people? Somali Pirates

High Seas piracy is big business. Somali's have the control of the entire market for piracy, the ransom amounts from 2008 to 2014 run to more than 150 million dollars, an amount that is almost equal to the GDP of the entire country.

Somalia is a failed state. Europeans drew borders on the land of Africa and divided it into different countries. But the people who have a nomadic lifestyle and absolutely no concept of country but great believers of the clan system immediately started fighting amongst themselves for supremacy. How do you bring unity and peace among tribes or clans who have been at each others throats for hundreds of years? The result is a country divided by chaos.

With nobody interested in their welfare and hammered on all sides by war, natural calamity and disastrous deep sea fishing by greedy corporates and countries taking advantage of a non existent government, Somalia has been looted and raped at will. Toxic wastes have been dumped off its coasts further wrecking havoc among the populace already struggling with famine.  What do ordinary people do when the only choice between life and death is a way of crime?

Piracy in high seas is a lucrative business in Somalia. As it with all illegal business, it is organized and has deep ties to the Mafia and is extremely well organized and efficient. Well it was until the world sat up and took notice of the loss being caused by the Somali's to the world economy.

The navies of the entire world converged on Somalia to stop a bunch of couple thousand Somali's risking life and limb to conquer ships thousands of miles out into the open sea aboard only tiny ships and skiffs. It is an unequal war one Somalia is in the process of losing but it was not won without a bitter fight.

Blood Ransom takes you behind the scenes, what makes a person become a pirate? Why does he risk his life? What is the life like at in high seas hunting for a ship?

Blood Ransom is the sad truth of a nation left behind by the world, a story of human greed and profiteering, a story of struggle for existence that mutates into a life of crime. It is a in depth look at the rise and fall of Somali piracy, the book is fast paced, deals with anecdotes from both sides of the fence, the ones that pirated and the ones that tried to prevent. It is also the story of the victims who have been kidnapped. Some who are lucky enough to be ransomed, some who have spent years in captivity and some who are still waiting for their freedom.

If you feel that piracy is something romantic like Johnny Depp portraying it in The Pirates of Caribbean, then think again and read this book.


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