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The United States is taking some important new steps to clamp down on the use of indentured workers on the high seas.

Labor, human rights and environmental abuses are widespread largely because the oceans are so sprawling, jurisdiction is complicated and policing is rare. Criminal mayhem on the oceans is rarely prosecuted, as governments that call themselves civilized look away. How can law and order be brought to the high seas, as crime, piracy and pollution are rampant? Please upgrade your browser.

The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime

See next articles. Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship. Closing a Loophole on Products Tied to Slaves. Palau vs.

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Slave Labor on the High Seas. But his rhetoric can get awfully inflated in the process: "There was no God to run to for mercy. There was no government to provide order.

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Civilization was ancient history, Europe a faint and faraway place. Langewiesche exerts firmer and more informative authorial control elsewhere in "The Outlaw Sea.


  1. The wide anarchic sea.
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The scoop on how ships are brazenly repainted, renamed and hidden in plain sight in harbors around the world is a key part of the piracy story. Langewiesche offers full details on the economic sense and sophistication behind these shady activities. A fascinating closing chapter on how the U. Langewiesche's on-the-ground observations in the Indian state of Gujarat, where ships are deliberately grounded and dismantled for scrap right on the beach, have a nice particularity to them.

The Outlaw Sea Background

This is reportage at its best. A vaunted selling point of the book — that it exposes the nature of our peril from sea-borne terrorism — is a little less satisfying. Langewiesche cites rumors that Osama bin Laden "is said to own or control up to twenty aging freighters," and he mentions the arrest of suspected terrorists, including a stowaway known as "Container Bob," arrested in October in a southern Italian port when he was discovered drilling ventilation holes from inside his container.

Inspectors are able to inspect only a fraction of the cargoes coming into ports around the world. The formidable cost of inspections and the economic damage that inspection-caused delays would do to international trade thwart these security efforts. If you've read the two paragraphs above, you've read most of what Langewiesche has to say on the subject.

Still, short of his infiltrating al-Qaida, it's difficult to see how he could have obtained any further hard information. A final caveat: the book offers no notes or bibliography.

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The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime by William Langewiesche

Yes, this is reportage rather than an academic study. But the topics addressed seem important enough to merit more reader-friendly identification of the sources Langewiesche consulted. Michael Upchurch: mupchurch seattletimes. Get home delivery today!

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