Posting this book blurb here because our love for the ocean, our cares for the pale of civilization afloat, and our love of freedom of the seas all come together in this book that's really about the dark and seamy side of international trade.
William Langewiesche gave the book the whole title: "The Outlaw Sea; A World of Freedom, Chaos and Crime."
Covers it. He's really a journalist with an unusually lyrical and marvelously unobtrusive style, even when writing about horrid stuff. Consequently, he elicits his main points by focusing on examples:
The loss of Kristal exemplifies how the explosion of convenience flags lead to the irresponsible down the food chain ship owners to dangerous practices, exploitation of mostly third world crews and such.
Easy segue from there to the world of modern, highly organized piracy and the taking of the Alondra Rainbow. Side excursions here to the Al Qaeda fleet of twenty or so tramps, the impossibility of deflecting water born terror threats, etc.
The sinking of Estonia shows how even in the nice world of northern Europe, jurisdiction squabbles and blame shifting can leave the door open to continuing disasters.
And he finishes up with a follow-up on the brilliant reportage of the Baltimore Sun's Will Englund into the human and ecological horrors of shipwrecking, not just in Bangladesh but on these shores as well.
From the spot I once occupied on the bridge of a tug, this seems very real to me.