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The Desert and the Sea

977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast
Narrated by: Corey Snow
Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (118 ratings)

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Summary

Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates - a riveting, thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival.

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.

©2018 Michael Scott Moore (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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Good

Heard the guy who wrote the book on adam Buxtons podcast and was interested in the story, I enjoyed it :)

1 person found this helpful

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loved it so good recommend 100% great story

loved it a story of a man that went through the he'll and survived great book

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting story, well written, well narrated

I am only reviewing Part One ofthe Audiobook download, but as I start Part Two I cannot imagine the story could lose its hold on me, that the quality of the writing would suddenly deteriorate or that the narrator would suddenly become dull or irritating.

As I said in the headline, all three of these vital elements are excellent.

The author, who went through this ordeal, tells us some of Somalia’s recent history but in small informative chunks that never feel like a history lesson. His portrayal of the different captors and fellow captives is alsodone well.

I am really enjoying this book, hoping of course that nothing remotely similar ever happens to me.

Onlyone thing: I hope by the end wewill hear a bit more about how his mother handled things and how the negotiations that finally led to her son’s freedom unfolded.... anyway, let’s see!

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Superb listen

Excellent story. Really enjoyed it. What an ordeal to go through. Well written and presented

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wow. what a great story.

An amazing story and sometimes hard to come to terms with just how different some parts of the world can be.

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Epic

This book provides an incredible ‘POV’ realism to the true terror of modern day kidnap and piratism.
Michael Scott-Moore brings to life his experiences vividly.

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brilliant

amazing story and very inspiring, griping from start to finish, really recommend this. narrated perfectly

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fascinating insight

I have no frame of reference to really understand what hostages go through, but this was a fascinating insight into what happens to people. the big picture, but also the mundanity of life with strangers.

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good but too long

Was good but too long. Wonderful story but dragged on for a bit too long

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  • Jonathan
  • 04-08-18

Wow!

I kept forgetting this is non fiction! Absolutely amazing to the end. Probably my favorite book this year. Great job Michael, and thanks to Joe Rogan for introducing me to this.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-08-18

A+++

Wow! Discovered Michael Scott Moores story from him being on Joe Rogans Podcast and what an amazing book to listen to. Makes me look at life completly diffrent. not gonna lie, I did have tears in my eyes the last couple chapters.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Buck & Ashley Pardee
  • 04-08-18

parallel worlds

I really enjoyed how this author was able to meld his story and experience as a hostage with his story and experiences in his childhood. I also really enjoyed how he took us on his emotional and psychological Journey not just his physical Journey. This book is definitely worthwhile reading. You will get intmate details on an experience most of us will hopefully never have. The most surprising part of the story for me was how uplifting it was at times. I really expected for this to be a pretty solemn raed but it had me thinking about all kinds of things from self-indulgence to understanding other cultures.

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  • Rick Alexander
  • 12-08-18

Relevant & Philosophical

This articulate and reflective memoir is colorful in its language but relevant to our time and worth yours.

2 people found this helpful

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  • psychodr1
  • 06-08-18

How he survived as a captive in Somali

Michael Scott Moore describes in detail his 977 days in captivity after being kidnapped by Somali pirates. He was held for ransom by the pirates who were demanding 20 million dollars, much more than his family could afford. He talks in detail about the mental and physical stress and pain he endured. He contemplated suicide often and had given up hope after thinking he would be rescued which failed to occur. He explains how he endured and survived. I found it interesting to gain some understanding of what I would consider to be an unendurable trial. It was well written and the narrator did a fine job. Well worth the credit to buy it.

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  • Hugo
  • 04-08-18

Incredible story!!

I loved the raw description of the struggle of resistance of the human spirit against all odds as described by the feelings of the writer. Inspiring all of us to think why if we are so intelligent we are so capable of harming one another. Religions and religious people of different types ignoring the message of their respective guidance and some how justifying their nepherious acts against others on the pursuit to satisfying their own greed. And as the writer notes, no much has changed throughout time. Thank you for sharing Michael, you survived to bear witness and through your story perhaps inspire many more to better? More appreciative?... I have!!

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  • Jean
  • 18-08-18

Exceptional Memoir

This is a fascinating story about the three years of Moore’s captivity by Somali pirates. Moore is a journalist and a gifted storyteller. Moore used his journalist tools of observation, interviewing techniques, and his interest in people’s stories to help him survive and then write an excellent memoir. The author provided a first-hand account of the Muslim pirates, the beginning of Al-Shabaab and the rise of ISIS which revealed the various faces of Islam. I was interested in his analysis of the political and economic problems of Somali.

The book is well written; in fact, Moore’s storytelling gift made it read like a page turning novel. The story of his capture, starvation, isolation and injuries made this into a nail-biting thriller. He made this so real I almost felt the flies crawling on my face.

The book is just over twelve hours. Coray Snow does an excellent job narrating the story. Snow was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and is now a full-time audiobook narrator. Snow specializes in science fiction, fantasy, military and history audiobooks. He has a voice that is easy to listen too. He has a reading rhythm appropriate to the story.

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  • Chuck Sadler
  • 09-08-18

So interesting

I heard the FreshAir interview with Micheal Scott Moore and I immediately got interested. I didn’t know what to expect from this novel. It is just a Fascinating listen. So much mundane crap love through is so interesting and unusual in our normal western lives. I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it to anyone.

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  • frank alfar
  • 17-09-19

all the stars deserved!!!!

This is a exceptional piece of true life literature. It really depicts and informsthe listener of his plight, journey and human interaction w the pirates and the other abducted . Excellent!!!

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  • Jean
  • 29-08-19

I Never Write Reviews

I never write reviews for books and have always just left it up to the experts. I enjoy reading reviews and always do so prior to selecting a book because often the "amateur" critics are equally as eloquent as the authors. But this time I decided to make an exception. I finished this book just a couple days after starting it and never intended to review it but the more I thought about the impact Michael Scott Moore's experience and writing about that experience had on me, I just had to say a few words.

It's not often that a book affects me in such a variety of ways. I felt I was truly there with the author, with his mother, with the kidnappers/sailors. And I learned so much I had never known before. The only other experience I can compare it to is when my daughter was in the Peace Corps in West Africa. She was not kidnapped, but she had some pretty tough experiences which have taken her/us a considerable amount of time to come to terms with.

So every single time the author's mom was mentioned, I held my breath. For her. For me. For her son. For my daughter. Of course as I read, I knew how the story ended to some degree because the author was alive to write the book. But this story is not about how it ends. It's about how it started and even before it started. And of course everything that happened leading up to the end.

The story itself, the captors, all of the characters, are each such an integral part of this fascinating book. But I can't help but think that the story would have been quite different if the main character was anyone other than the author himself, His character, personality, and way with dealing with daily occurrences, horrible conditions, and the ongoing unknowns involved in being held captive, make this a page-turner. I almost felt he had a zen-like approach to everything and everyone.

The narrator is excellent. Possibly the author himself could only have done such a great job.

And finally, I learned so much! About Somalia, about human beings and human nature, about love and fear, about life and freedom, about myself. Of the 200 or so books I have listened to on Audible, only one other book affected me this way. I'll give it a bit of time and listen to this one again.