A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea

( 61 )

Overview

"I share the country's admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans."
—President Barack Obama

It was just another day on the job for fifty-three-year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, the United States-flagged cargo ship which was carrying, among other things, food and agricultural materials for the World Food Program. That all changed when armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. The pirates didn't expect the crew ...

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A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea

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Overview

"I share the country's admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans."
—President Barack Obama

It was just another day on the job for fifty-three-year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, the United States-flagged cargo ship which was carrying, among other things, food and agricultural materials for the World Food Program. That all changed when armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. The pirates didn't expect the crew to fight back, nor did they expect Captain Phillips to offer himself as hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew. Thus began the tense five-day stand-off, which ended in a daring high-seas rescue when U.S. Navy SEALs opened fire and picked off three of the captors.

"It never ends like this," Captain Phillips said.

And he's right.

A Captain's Duty tells the life-and-death drama of the Vermont native who was held captive on a tiny lifeboat off Somalia's anarchic, gun-plagued shores. A story of adventure and courage, it provides the intimate details of this high-seas hostage-taking—the unbearable heat, the death threats, the mock executions, and the escape attempt. When the pirates boarded his ship, Captain Phillips put his experience into action, doing everything he could to safeguard his crew. And when he was held captive by the pirates, he marshaled all his resources to ensure his own survival, withstanding intense physical hardship and an escalating battle of wills with the pirates. This was it: the moment where training meets instinct and where character is everything. Richard Phillips was ready.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Phillips's story is not just riveting and timely, but also an informative, heartening look at...the Merchant Marines." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401310448
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 1/18/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 54,568
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Captain Richard Phillips grew up in Underhill VT, with seven brothers and sisters. He married Andrea Coggio in 1988—she is an emergency room nurse—and together they have two children. Phillips is a 1979 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and became captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 13, 2010

    Fantastic Account by Captain Phillips

    My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed Capt. Phillips' story. It is a well-written book about bravery and modern-day piracy. We just read the review by "anonymous" and had to wonder, "Why the anonymity?" Never trust anonymous reviews (or a pirate, according to Richard Phillips!) We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book. Captivating!

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2010

    inaccuracies

    Fully expected a laundry list of half truths. Instead it is a book with outright lies and fabrications. Not only did Richard Phillips laugh at the approaching skif, unable to believe the watch that they were under attack but there was no prayer mat or sign pointing to Mecca anywhere on the Alabama. It was not Richard Phillips who suggested Mr. Reza take the captive pirate to the safe room. Richard Phillips denied the crews request to stock the safe room with food and water but in his book he mentions that it was a great idea and told CE to make it so. Never happened. Mr. Wright is unfairly portrayed as a coward when the truth is he is a hero. This book only furthers the lies and misunderstandings about the Maersk Alabama when the real story has yet to be told and is inspiring and at its core about teamwork, brotherhood and love of Country. Shame on you Richard Phillips.

    7 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Captain¿s Duty is the first biography I have ever read but it

    A Captain’s Duty is the first biography I have ever read but it felt like a work of fiction because it was hard to believe Captain Richard Phillips’ experience actually happens far more often than we hear about. I learned a lot about merchant mariners and the risks they face daily out at sea transporting goods in an effort to keep our store shelves stocked. It’s a shame more awareness isn’t brought to this profession.

    “The merchant marine is the first of the nation's services. We were founded in 1775, before the army and the navy. In all our wars, including World War II, guys who just couldn't live with the navy's regulations ended up onboard cargo ships…We were the first to die in World War II—seventeen minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese sub strafed the lumber hauler SS Cynthia Olson and sank it, over 1,000 miles north of Honolulu. Thirty-three sailors jumped into lifeboats but were never seen again, because all hell was breaking loose on navy ships a thousand miles away. And the merchant marine suffered more casualties than any other service in World War II. One in every twenty-six sailors died while doing his duty. Crewmen torpedoed along the Atlantic coast drowned in engine oil while sunbathers watched from the shore. Men in the North Atlantic froze solid to the floors of their lifeboats after their tankers went down. Enormous five-hundred-foot ships carrying ammunition and dynamite to the front lines were torpedoed, blowing up in explosions so violent they never found a trace of the tons of metal or the hundreds of men aboard. They just disappeared into thin air. Which is fitting, really. The merchant marine has always been the invisible service, the guys who brought the tanks to Normandy, the bullets to Okinawa, but no one ever remembers us. What General Douglas MacArthur said was true: "They brought us our lifeblood and paid for it with their own." According to this book, “There's a bill before Congress that will guarantee these men standing as World War II veterans and pay them a small stipend, but it's taking so long to get through the political process that most of the guys will be dead before it's passed. That's a shame.”

    A Captain’s Duty brought awareness to modern high seas piracy and the lengths pirates will go to get money: hijacking ships, kidnapping/ransom, and violence/execution. The fact that piracy is linked with terrorist groups was news to me as well. I thought A Captain’s Duty was a well written account of Captain Phillips’ experience. It was engaging and I wanted to read about the experience from Captain Phillips himself (who wrote this book, along with journalist Stephan Talty) before seeing how Hollywood portrays the experience. I was glad the book incorporated what his wife, family, and friends also went through at home while this was happening. I have always admired families of military personnel for their strength and emotional endurance. This book noted that families of merchant mariners experience the same emotional demands. When it comes to the threat of danger, it’s “Not a matter of if but when.”

    My favorite quotes:
    “As a sailor, you have to put your real life on your kitchen shelf and pick up your merchant marine life. Because on the job, you barely have a personal life. You're on call twenty-four hours a day to do whatever the ship needs. You eat and sleep and work and that's pretty much it. It's like you've died and gone to sea. Then you come back and take your real life off the shelf and start living it again.”

    “The pirates had guns, we didn’t. All we had to fight them were brains and willpower.”

    “We are stronger than we think.”

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2013

    Oh come on! Can't we have a true hero in America? Actually, many

    Oh come on! Can't we have a true hero in America? Actually, many of the crew were very brave, outstanding!
    Even if the captains' memory was formed by extreeme stress, his point of view-you know-that view you get when you believe you are not going to live much longer and the huge responsibility he felt for those on the ship, so what?!
    The facts are solid, and there is not a chance those 4 pirates would have had so much difficulty if he had not acted quickly, made hard decisions and always looked to give them money and get them gone. I remember following this as the news broke and cheering as the outcome was good. I didn't know all the details but suspected that he was a cut above when he attempted the escape.
    The story is so incredibly rich and covers so much, the very idea of people becoming pirates, taking over ships for ransom money is incredible. I don't have a lot of sympathy for them as they followed a leader to make a quick buck and of course, the US is to blame for corrupting their fishing.Maybe they should lay off the drugs?
    If the US ruined something of theirs, why can't these guys can't register a complaint with the UN and expect an answer and changes made? We need to have an equalizing party that ensures no one is harmed by anothers' actions or disregard. They have to have an alternative to this madness and I don't know that they do. I also question why the US patrols were not closer with a quicker response time? It seemed they came around after the harm, all of thecrew could have been dead and then what? A little proactive placement goes a long way.Cudos to the crew, the sharpshooters and those who organized that whole rescue and to Captain Phillips, he has shown a character that is worthy of his station-you know, they don't make just anyone captain of large ships. I will remember your name Captain and tell the story to my yet to be grand kids.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Read

    I love reading true stories and this one is a real page turner. I could not put this book down once I started it. really keeps you going.
    and I have to say "Proud to be an American"

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    COURAGE AND HIGH ADVENURE

    Totally absorbing. Full of details I didn't know about the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. Highly recommended.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2013

    I'd love to leave an actual review here, but 3,500 characters is

    I'd love to leave an actual review here, but 3,500 characters is not enough to leave anything substantial.  So I'll just put my truncated, completely useless version here:

    1) The book is at its best when it addresses Phillips' personal view of the piracy situation in the waters surrounding Somalia or his view of the merchant mariners.  These sections can sometimes be somewhat dull, though, as he has a tendency to provide too much detail about things which aren't really relevant to the picture the book needs to establish.
    2) Unfortunately, once the actual hijacking occurs, Phillips' account strains credulity.  There are contradictions (the pirates let him swim; several chapters later, he says they never did).  Worse, the pirates, who we're told are quite good at piracy, despite limited resources, are shown to be inept beyond reason, such that the entire account of their movements is difficult to accept as factual.  For example, Phillips repeatedly uses a handheld radio to communicate with the crew; he claims to have "snuck this" by the pirates, but he never uses it when they aren't present, so it's hard to imagine that they never saw him giving away sensitive information to the crew he claims to have lost.  Later, he literally uses the radio in front of them so there's no doubt that they know he has it; this is the moment when he hands over sensitive information _to the military_.
    That's basically what I have to say on that.  The first half is decent, but it falls apart the second he tries to relay the events which made the book possible in the first place.  Non-fiction needs to at least present the illusion of truth.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    Much better than the movie!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    Thrilling

    A very detailed account of captain phillips days with somali pirates. The movie is good but the book is better. I highly reccomend it to anyone who is in fir a good thrill.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2013

    Good read, worth the price

    Capt Phillips discussion of his ship, his crew, the terrorist attack/boarding, the lifeboat saga and the rescue is straight forward and informative. Not ego driven, a good picture of a ship captain's responsibilities and accountabilities.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Good, good read

    Very engaging, especially since it was a true story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Solid book

    It's a great story that definitely drags at certain points. If you're familiar with the story, it's fun to read all about how it went down, from the Captain's POV. I recommend it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Good read WELLI

    Well remembered and unforgetable ordeal

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2010

    Inspiring

    Could not put it down!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2010

    fictitious

    I agree with the previous post concerning the vast inaccuracies of this book. It follows verbatim the media frenzy that was patched together to provide information to the people back on land, which probably accounts for the lack of depth, insight, and emotional description in this account. He's simply following the script. However, the man still went through a horrific ordeal, no one can change that (unfortunately). Also, this entire episode became a mandate for the American people to wake up to the multidimensional problems that continue to grow in that region-- and how we should react when it infringes on our citizens. It is an interesting read, and I recommend it to everyone to at least give it a shot. But no, you won't find brutal honesty or anything provocative here. If someone wants to be upset about that, get angry at the military's editors that combed through it.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    I found A Captain's Duty to be a very well written story by Rich

    I found A Captain's Duty to be a very well written story by Richard Phillips. This biography of an intense situation truly put the reader in the captain's shoes. While reading the book I felt as if the pirates were after me and I constantly found myself yelling at Captain Phillips to change his course of actions. I highly recommend this book to any and all that are into foreign affairs and high intensity action. This story truly puts in perspective how hard a Captain's job is with what little they have to protect them. Lastly, no matter the controversy over the truth behind the story, It is very well written with wonderful imagery that makes this book worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Show some respect

    This is a true story

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    Ssmple good Book is Boring

    The sample and first 15pages if the book are interesting. After the first chapter the excitement stops and the book rambles on.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Excellent!

    Gripping read...from start to finish!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2014

    Amazing

    Have the paperback... SO FR<_>EAKI<_>NG GOOD

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews

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