The evolution of contemporary piracy from small bands of fishermen to a highly organized criminal enterprise
In 2009, the United States was hit broadside by Somali pirates who attempted to capture the U.S. flag ship Maersk Alabama. Suddenly, the pirates were no longer a distant menace. They had thrust themselves onto the American stage. Are the Somali pirates a legion of desperate fisherman attacking cargo ships and ocean cruisers to reclaim their waters? Or is piracy connected to crime networks and the madness that grips Somalia? What threats do pirates pose to international security? To answer these questions, Peter Eichstaedt crisscrosses East Africa, meeting with pirates both in and out of prisons, talking with them about their lives, tactics, and motives. Ultimately, he comes face-to-face with a former fighter with Somalia’s brutal Islamic al-Shabaab militia. He discovers that piracy is a symptom of a much deeper problem: Somalia itself. Pirate State explores the links between the pirates, global financiers, and extremists who control southern Somalia and whose influence extends across the Gulf of Aden into Yemen and connects to extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Somali pirates are desperate and dangerous men who will do just about anything for money, and Pirate State argues that turning a blind eye to piracy and the problems of Somalia is inviting a disaster of horrific proportions.
"Clear, expert reporting on a region of which many Americans may be unaware." —Kirkus Reviews
"[A] compelling book . . . [Eichstaedt's] even-handed polished style, and impressive documentation let the horrors and ramifications of piracy speak for themselves." —Publishers Weekly web-exclusive reviews (February 28, 2011)
"Peter Eichstaedt traveled through some of Africa’s most dangerous territory to piece together the inside story of Somalia’s pirate scourge. . . . Exhilarating, exhaustive, and written with a passion for a troubled land." —Rob Crilly, journalist and author, Saving Darfur
"This no-holds-barred book should be on the desk of every politico in our nation and beyond. . . . A gripping, page turner. . . . Not a single person can afford to walk away and continue to believe that this is an 'African Problem'; this is a world problem." —Salem-News.com
"Disentangles the complex web of greed, extremism, and sheer desperation that manifests itself in the increasingly bold attacks by Somali pirates. . . . [Eichstaedt] passionately makes the case that the world cannot afford to ignore the threat posed by the continuing chaos in the Horn of Africa." —Dr. J. Peter Pham, senior fellow and Africa project director, National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and editor-in-chief, Journal of the Middle East and Africa