With British writer Ben Rawlence at London's Frontline Club on Monday, October 22, 2018, author and journalist Michael Scott Moore discusses his experiences being kidnapped by Somali pirates and held captive for nearly three years.
In early 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online and with a grant from the Pulitzer Center, Moore travelled to the Horn of Africa to research a book about piracy and ways to end it. In a cruel twist of fate, the then 45-year old California native (with dual German and American citizenship) was kidnapped and taken captive by pirates. Moore was released in September 2014.
In July 2018, Moore published The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast. Among his experiences while in captivity, Moore speaks about spending five months aboard a hijacked tuna long-liner–the only Western writer to experience life aboard a ship hijacked by Somali pirates. Moore weaves his own experience–including physical injury, starvation, isolation and terror–with a larger examination of the world around him. He explores the economics and history of piracy (going all the way back to America’s own colonial history), the effects of post-colonialism (Italian and British); the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom (including Moore’s mother’s role in gaining his release); the legalities of industrial fishing and the role of Islam among the pirates.
Moore is an accomplished author and journalist, a former Fulbright and Logan Nonfiction fellow. His comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, was published to acclaim in 2003, and Sweetness and Blood, his travel book about the spread of surfing to odd corners of the world, was named a book of the year by The Economist and Popmatters in 2010. Moore has written about politics and travel for The Atlantic, Slate, Der Spiegel, Pacific Standard, Businessweek, and the Financial Times.
Rawlence is a British writer who has written two books: Radio Congo: Signals Of Hope From Africa’s Deadliest War and City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. From 2006 to 2013 he was a researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. Rawlence has also written for The New York Times, The Guardian and London Review of Books.