The Outlaw Sea

  • by William Langewiesche
  • Narrated by William Langewiesche
  • 7 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Even if we live within sight of the sea, it is easy to forget that our world is an ocean world. The open ocean, that vast expanse of international waters, begins just a few miles out and spreads across three-fourths of the globe. It is a place of storms and danger, both natural and manmade. And at a time when every last patch of land is claimed by one government or another, it is a place that remains radically free. With typically understated lyricism, William Langewiesche explores this ocean world and the enterprises, licit and illicit, that flourish in the privacy afforded by its horizons. Forty-three thousand gargantuan ships ply the open ocean, carrying nearly all the raw materials and products on which our lives are built. Many are owned or managed by one-ship companies so ghostly that they exist only on paper. They are the embodiment of modern global capital and the most independent objects on earth, many of them without allegiances of any kind, changing identity and nationality at will. Here is free enterprise at it freest, opportunity taken to extremes. But its efficiencies are accompanied by global problems, shipwrecks and pollution, the hard lives and deaths of the crews, and the growth of two perfectly adapted pathogens: a modern and sophisticated strain of piracy and its close cousin, the maritime form of the new stateless terrorism.
This is the outlaw sea, perennially defiant and untamable, that Langewiesche brings startlingly into view. The ocean is our world, he reminds us, and it is wild.


What the Critics Say

"Equal parts incisive political harangue and lyrical reflection on the timelessness of the sea, this book brilliantly illuminates a system the world economy depends upon, but will not take responsibility for." (Publishers Weekly)
"Langewiesche, an Atlantic Monthly correspondent, might be the best investigative magazine journalist working today....His writing is impossibly thorough and powerfully understated..." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Langewiesche's narrative achieves an almost operatic grandeur..." (The New York Times Book Review)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazing Narrative!

First, a rare occasion of an author who is an excellent reader. A similar experience to listening Bill Bryson reading his work. The passion of the author reaches out, like having dinner with a friend who is an excellent speaker, knowledgable, and entertaining.

Second, an amazing step inside the world of ships, the oceans, and the people who conduct commerce on the seas. I recommend The Outlaw Sea highly. I look forward to more by this author.
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- Darren

Interesting Listen...

This was a very insightful audiobook. One might think that a story about the sea and shipping would be somewhat boring, but the author did a great job of revealing many of the mysteries of the shipping industry and the people who make up its ranks. Also kind of scary to realize how dependant we are on the ships for getting our goods to and fro, and how vulnerable and difficult to manage the whole system is.
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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-28-2004
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio