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


this is an absolutely brilliant, non-fiction book that gives a very beautiful glimpse into the world's oceans and the shipping and sailing that appear goes upon it
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- Darren

Good Subject, Poor Narrator Choice

This book is way too long given the material the author presented. This could have been presented easily in half the time. There are excruciatingly long descriptions of ocean going disasters that do not bring much to the story.

Additionally, the narrator's voice (the narrator happens to be the author) is AWFUL!! I mean if such things as annual Monotone Awards were given, he would be the hands down winner!!. If a better narrator had been used (such as George Guidall or Michael Kramer for example) the book would have been actually exciting at times. If the narrator approaches life with the same "enthusiasm" he projects with his voice, it's certainly no surprise how this book turned out to be so dull.

I wasted my money on this. I gave it two stars, because during those times when the author was not spending hours describing one incident, it did give me a glimpse of the nature of traveling the high seas.
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- Augusto C.

Book Details

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