In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International—and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates. Subjected to conditions that break even the strongest spirits—physical injury, starvation, isolation, terror—Moore’s survival is a testament to his indomitable strength of mind. In September 2014, after 977 days, he walked free when his ransom was put together by the help of several US and German institutions, friends, colleagues, and his strong-willed mother.
Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history. Caught between Muslim pirates, the looming threat of Al-Shabaab, and the rise of ISIS, Moore observes the worlds that surrounded him—the economics and history of piracy; the effects of post-colonialism; the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom; while also conjuring the various faces of Islam—and places his ordeal in the context of the larger political and historical issues.
A sort of Catch-22 meets Black Hawk Down, The Desert and the Sea is written with dark humor, candor, and a journalist’s clinical distance and eye for detail. Moore offers an intimate and otherwise inaccessible view of life as we cannot fathom it, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the social, economic, religious, and political factors creating it. The Desert and the Sea is wildly compelling and a book that will take its place next to titles like Den of Lions and Even Silence Has an End.
Michael Scott Moore is an accomplished author and journalist, a California native and a longtime resident of Berlin. His comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, was published in 2003, and Sweetness and Blood, a travel book about the spread of surfing to odd corners of the world, was named a book of the year by The Economist in 2010. Moore has written about politics, literature, and travel for The Atlantic, Der Spiegel, Pacific Standard, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Judith was torn away from David by a band of armed pirates, dragged over sea and land to a village in the arid heart of lawless Somalia, and there held hostage in a squalid room, a ransom on her head. There, too, she learned the terrible truth that the responsibility of securing her release now rested with her son Ollie.
But though she was isolated, intimidated and near-starved, Judith resolved to survive - walking endless circuits of her nine-foot prison, trying to make her captors see her as a human being, keeping her faith at all times in Ollie.
Powerful, moving and at times quite devastating, this is Judith Tebbutt's story in her own words. It is a memoir of the life she shared with her beloved husband, an unflinching account of the ordeal that overturned her world, and a testament to the inner resilience and familial love that sustained her through captivity.
There is nothing so bad in life as to have no hope - to believe you have been defeated, to give in to that. Now that I found myself in confinement, four thousand miles from home under a hostile sky, I would not accept that fate for myself.
In the midst of her campaign for the Colombian presidency in 2002, Ingrid Betancourt traveled into a military-controlled region, where she was abducted by the FARC, a brutal terrorist guerrilla organization in conflict with the government. She would spend the next six and a half years captive in the depths of the Colombian jungle. Even Silence Has an End is her deeply moving and personal account of that time. The facts of her story are astounding, but it is Betancourt's indomitable spirit that drives this very special narrative-an intensely intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate reflection on what it really means to be human.