A Captain's Duty

A Captain's Duty

3.85 (2,877 ratings by Goodreads)
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8th April 2009 was just an ordinary day for 53 -year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the United States-registered cargo vessel, the Maersk Alabama, as it headed towards the port of Mombasa. Ordinary that is until, two hundred or so miles off the east coast of Africa, armed Somali pirates attacked and boarded the freighter. It was the first time an American cargo ship had been hijacked in over 200 years. What the pirates didn't expect was that the crew would fight back, nor did they expect Captain Phillips to offer himself as a hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew - a courageous gesture that resulted in his being held captive on a tiny life-boat off the anarchic, gun-plagued coast of Somalia. And so began a tense five-day stand-off, which ended in a daring high-seas rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs. In A Captain's Duty, Richard Phillips tells his own extraordinary story - that of an ordinary man who did what he saw as his duty and in so doing became a hero. It is a thrilling true tale of adventure and courage in the face of deprivation, death threats and mock executions and also a compulsively readable first-hand account of the terrors of high-seas hostage-taking.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 127 x 198 x 20mm | 229g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8pp b & w photos; b & w map
  • 0857502468
  • 9780857502469
  • 69,481

Review quote

"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." BARACK OBAMA, President of the USA "For once, the good guys won." BOOKLIST "This riveting account spares none of the detail and paints fascinating portraits of the desperate young pirates. The film, starring Tom Hanks, opens this month and if it is half as tense as the book, it'll be unmissable." DAILY MAIL "We think this is shaping up to be something really quite special" DEN OF GEEKshow more

About Richard Phillips

Born in 1955, Richard Phillips is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He became captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009 and is still a serving officer in the United States' merchant marine. His account of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama and his experiences as a hostage of Somali pirates - A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea - was first published in the USA in 2010. He and his wife have two children and live on a farm in Vermont.show more

Review Text

"For once, the good guys won."show more

Back cover copy

’It never ends like this...’ Richard Phillips knew of the dangers. He’d said as much in an email to his wife. And yet 8 April 2009 began as just another ordinary day for the fifty-three year-old captain of the Maersk Alabama, the US-flagged cargo ship carrying food and agricultural materials for the World Food Program. Ordinary that is until – some two hundred miles off the Horn of Africa – Somali pirates, armed with AK47s, attacked and boarded the freighter . . . But the pirates didn’t expect the crew to fight back. And they didn’t plan on the captain offering himself as a hostage in place of his ship and crew. And ultimately they didn’t bargain on the plain-talking, tough-as-nails officer they took as their prisoner. What followed was a tense five-day stand-off and an escalating battle of wills that would end in a daring and deadly high-seas rescue. Captain Phillips' astonishing story is of an ordinary man who did what he saw as his duty, and in so doing became a hero.show more

Rating details

2,877 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 28% (796)
4 39% (1,132)
3 25% (732)
2 6% (163)
1 2% (54)

Our customer reviews

OVERVIEW A brief history of Captain Richard Phillips' history as a merchant marine and the events leading up to, and culminating in, him being taken hostage by Somali pirates and ultimately rescued by US Navy SEALs. POSITIVES Overall the book is a very quick and easy read. The first half of the book contains a lot of interesting and entertaining stories of Phillips' history as a merchant marine, how he met his wife, and how the job affected his family. This all leads up to the ill-fated journey on the Maersk Alabama. The second half of the book is more about the journey itself, the precautions that were put in place on board the ship and how the whole event took place. On the whole this too makes for an enlightening and engaging read and at times it is difficult to put down. NEGATIVES I felt the second half of the book was padded out, especially when Phillips discusses what took place when he was on board the lifeboat. I appreciate there's probably not much that can take place in a lifeboat over five days and the difficulty that presented the author in giving the reader an idea of the mental and physical anguish he went through in that time, but I found myself flicking through the pages a bit to get to something interesting again. OVERALL This is a good book and is well worth reading on holidays or somewhere you can put your feet up and get taken along for the ride while being educated on life as a merchant marine at the same time.show more
by Ben
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