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A Captain's Duty
Cover of A Captain's Duty
A Captain's Duty
Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and My Dangerous Days at Sea
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"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.
"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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About 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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 5, 2010
    In this fascinating, suspenseful first person account of his capture by Somali pirates, which dominated news media for five days in April 2009, captain Phillips brings the growing pirate threat (up 20 percent in 2009's first quarter) to life. An experienced Merchant Marine, Phillips was recently made captain of the cargo vessel Maersk Alabama, and, like all captains, was weary of the threat from pirates: "since 2005... captains had been going out fifty, then one hundred... then six hundred miles" to avoid the Somali coast. His feeling that "if pirates got onboard, it was all over" proves unfortunately correct; it took the armed criminals just five minutes to board the ship and take the bridge. Phillips has a sailor's penchant for the dramatic, which he puts to good use alternating between his own five-day ordeal-replete with Navy SEALs and a daring escape attempt-and the plight of his family in Vermont, watching the drama unfold on cable news. Despite his harrowing experience, Phillips stays afloat with steadfast faith and an unfailing sense of humor that are, ultimately, rewarded. Phillips's story is not just riveting and timely, but also an informative, heartening look at perhaps the least-celebrated branch of the U.S. military, the Merchant Marines.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 15, 2010
    It was absolutely inevitable that Captain Philips of the Maersk Alabama would write about the hijacking of his ship by Somali pirates and his ordeal as their hostage. A mariner of 30 years experience when his ship was taken, he had in place all the security precautions to keep his crew safe and hidden. This left him as the only possible hostage and led to an ordeal of several days in a lifeboat in the hands of pirates whom he portrays, with compassion and balance, as alternately conciliatory, vicious, and simply not all there. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy assembled a task force large enough to fight a small war, and tension steadily rose, as did Phillips fear for his life. The pirate leader decamped, and the other three died in a classic hostage rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs. Phillips then entered the media typhoon his family and friends had already been enduringhis wife, Andrea, deserves her own laurel wreath for invincible loyalty and determinationbut in the end escaped that, too. He is last seen hanging out the washing because Andrea has to make it to work, and one closes the book with an overpowering sense that this time, for once, the good guys won.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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    Hachette Books
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A Captain's Duty
A Captain's Duty
Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and My Dangerous Days at Sea
Richard Phillips
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