A Captain's Duty by Richard Philips

Title: A Captain’s Duty
Author: Richard Philips
Genre: Biography
Pages: 304
Published: April 6th 2010

He knew what this life would entail. He knew that voyaging on the high seas was never predictable and that this goodbye might just be the last. It was no secret that the oceans of the world had now become the playground of those ready to pillage and plunder large vessels, for the goods that their homelands could not provide. Captain Richard Philips knew about the Somali Pirates, yet his love for the ocean was one so dedicated that never being able to set sail again was simply unimaginable. Setting off from Salalah, Oman on a dangerous route through the Indian Ocean to deposit World Food Aid in Mombasa, the Maersk Alabama was up for the journey of its life. Some two hundred miles off the Horn of Africa, the much feared event occurred, when Somali pirates, armed with AK47s, attacked and boarded the freighter mid journey. The last thing they expected, however was to find a ship with not a crew member in sight. The last thing they would have bargained for was the tough-as-nails, plain-talking Captain who offered himself as hostage in exchange for the freedom of his ship. What followed was a grueling five-day stand-off and an escalating battle of wills that would end in a daring and deadly high seas rescue. The astonishing story of an ordinary man who did what he saw as his duty, and in doing so became a hero.
A life or death adventure that some of us think only exists in Jack Sparrow movies. Oh how wrong we are. The story of Captain Philips is not only true but one which definitely inspires bravery and dedication for ones passion, in all who hear it. As I was gripping onto the pages of this book, it was hard to keep reminding myself that, yes this really did happen, and is actually happening a lot more often than we know it. The escapades of the Somali Pirates should not be news to anyone, and yes, it could have been any other vessel that was attacked by that specific group of pirates, but it was upon the Maersk Alabama that the cards fell and Captain Philips reacted in such a way that caught the attention of many, with awe. We hear the stories all the time from the mouths of the reporters, but to actually read the words of the one, who was actually there, has a different impact.
The author gives us a glimpse of the history of his profession, the merchant marines, whom we owe for the cars on the roads, the food in our fridge, and basically everything we have especially in little Seychelles. We also get an insight on what it takes to rise in the ranks of the profession and we read the story of a rambunctious young man, who would later become a Captain and save the lives of all those on his ship.
My only disappointment was that the tone of the book towards the Pirates, I found, somewhat unsympathetic. Yes I agree that they steal and hold hostages and cause families all over the world much pain at times, but their plight in one of the poorest countries in the world should not be forgotten.
Until next time my faithful booklovers.


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