Book: A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips

Book: A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips

This is quite possibly a first. The number of times I want to read a book upon which a film is based, but never do.

I’m glad I did for this one.

What became the excellent Captain Phillips film with Tom Hanks is a standalone gripping book about the first American merchant ship to be successfully boarded by Somalian pirates in recent times. Rather than the pricey cargo, some of which was aid for the poorest in Africa to survive, it is the lives that are held to ransom.

The desperate pirates know that the ransom paid – if at all – from Asian counties will be less from the bigger American fish. So they appear to have hit the jackpot when they managed to board the US Maersk Alabama, with nothing to lose but their lives if they are unsuccessful.

Little did they know that they will face a captain willing to take risks to protect his ship and his team.

Once he had kissed his wife goodbye and set foot on the ship, he had noted lots of lapses in safety while reading constant email updates about pirate activity in the area he was sailing towards. He had undertaken the drills but still they could do nothing against the guns the kidnappers were carrying once they had boarded.

This was also unknown terror as the Americans had not been held to ransom in this way before. So this account shares what the kidnapped Captain thinks the American government may do over five harrowing days where he is held on a lifeboat with four pirates, having traded himself as a hostage instead of his ship and crew.

There are some differences – as it often the case I believe between the book and the film.

Captain Philips referenced the pirate’s drug taking a fair bit and this was just alluded to in the book. There were many more beatings and mock killings detailed to be taking place at certain times in a ritualistic fashion, according to the pirates beliefs.

Even though it’s a true story and I’ve seen and loved (if not actually enjoyed the film) the book is still gripping.

The story reported in NY Times.


Inspiration factor 6/10

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