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A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea | [Richard Phillips, Stephan Talty]

A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea

It was just another day on the job for 53-year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, a United States-flagged cargo ship that was carrying, among other things, food and agricultural materials for the World Food Program. That all changed when armed Somali pirates boarded the ship.
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Publisher's Summary

"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 53-year-old Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, a United States-flagged cargo ship that 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 a hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew. Thus began the tense five-day standoff, 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 story of adventure and courage, A Captain's Duty 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.

©2010 Richard Phillips (P)2010 Tantor

What Members Say

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  •  
    danny lawrence Charlotte, NC USA 02-08-14
    danny lawrence Charlotte, NC USA 02-08-14 Member Since 2006

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lives up to the title. A tale of courage and duty"

    A gripping story even when knowing the outcome already. Captain Phillips demonstrated with his actions what it means to be Captain. He took care of his ship and his crew, and then removed the problem. It was very interesting how he handled the pirates and his situation of being their prisoner. I also enjoyed the background of the Merchant Marines and the kind of life the MMs live. I just might see the Tom Hanks movie now.

    I would recommend this selection to anyone

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Last Man United States 01-31-14
    Last Man United States 01-31-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Self serving glory hound."

    Too strong? Maybe, maybe not. Captain Phillips certainly underwent a series of events that few people in the world could identify with, and for that his story is a unique and interesting. That much seems certain. What is uncertain is how much of his role was embellished after the fact to make him appear more heroic than he might have been in reality. I suggest this only to caution the listener to examine what Captain Phillips recounts with a critical ear. Initially, I didn't know much about the events recounted in the book. I watched the movie, found it entertaining, and wanted to learn more. However not far into the listen my "BS" meter began "pinging". I found a lot of his story extremely arrogant and self-righteous, and was beginning to wonder why he didn't walk on water right off the lifeboat to safety. After constantly being told why he was such a great captain throughout his career, how he continually outsmarted the pirates, and how his actions saved several of the crew's lives again and again I started researching the event to get a more complete picture. Without going into detail here, I will say there are multiple accounts of Captain Phillips' actions during that time. Most of these accounts conflict with what is set out in the book. I found many of the peripheral stories about Captain Phillips' pre-hostage experiences in the Merchant Marines burdensome and tedious. I didn't really care about what kind of a hard-case he was in academy, or how he met his wife. Some people would argue stories like that give a character depth, but in this case it just came across as filler for the book.

    The narrator did a decent job with the story. I didn't really find his reading especially captivating, nor did it make a bad story worse.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Roy, UT, United States 01-30-14
    Paul Roy, UT, United States 01-30-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Great story about everyday heroes"
    What did you love best about A Captain's Duty?

    I loved how selfless Captain Phillips was. His crew, cargo, and ship were most important to him.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Captain Phillips himself is an amazing man, but his wife seems impressive as well.


    What about George K. Wilson’s performance did you like?

    The Somali pirates were a tough part of the book, but it was well played.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The last couple of chapters made tears run down my cheeks. My wife asked what was so sad, but I wasn't crying. It was patriotism, happiness, and excitement causing my eyes to leak.


    Any additional comments?

    I have not seen the movie, but I hope it is as good as this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NDFletch 01-26-14
    NDFletch 01-26-14

    ndfletcher

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    "Interesting, but not compelling"
    Any additional comments?

    With all due respect to Captain Phillips, his ordeal, as traumatic as it was for him, is not a compelling story. Hours after being taken hostage, he and hist captures are surrounded by the US Navy… obviously the kidnappers were going nowhere. Captain Phillips made equal number of good and bad decisions, surviving by luck and the intervention of the US Navy.

    The most interesting aspect of the story to me was the recounting of President Obama's use of military might… once the American people became engaged in the story. He sent the US Navy to rescue one man from four teenage boys with four rifles. Not much risk for his reputation. Unlike Benghazi, where he and Hillary Clinton fabricated a story to divert attention from their spineless inaction that let four Americans die without any military response.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 01-18-14
    Tim United States 01-18-14 Member Since 2011

    Putting books on the back burner.

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    "Equally As Good"

    I don't normally read the book after I watch the movie because what is the point. Unless they butcher the film base on the novel, you already know what is to come. "Captain Phillips" was an awesome movie. My eyes were glued to the screen during the whole time. I ended up buying the book because it was on sale and I wanted to know what they miss in the movie. They didn't miss much.

    Richard Phillips' hostage story in "A Captain's Duty" was well told. I am just a very visual person. If a book can paint a picture in my mind, then the author has done their job. As I kept listening to the audiobook, my mind kept flashing back to Tom Hanks and the Somalis, and how they develop each scene base on the book.

    My friends' say that I need to watch the Danish film, "A.Hijacking." I should see if it is base on a book and read it first.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 01-15-14
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 01-15-14 Member Since 2011

    I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.

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    "Somalia and Piarcy"

    I know that Somalia is lawless and extremely poor but that does not allow them the freedom to commit piracy. This memoir about Captain Phillips exemplifies that piracy by Somalian men continues with no end in sight.

    The men who commit piracy do not gain any substantial reward. Most of their money will be turned over to the man back in Somalia who orchestrated the crime.

    Captain Phillips showed extreme courage when his ship was boarded by the Somalian pirates. Especially noted was the fact that the safety of his men remained first and foremost in how he inserted himself as the leader. Therefore, the pirates had to deal with only him and not his men. Captain Phillips didn't plan on being captured himself but when all was said and done he knew his men were safe. The first rule of being the captain of the ship was successful.

    Captain Phillips and his first mate were able to alert the British that the ship was being boarded and taken over by pirates. Captain Phillips knew that his rescue was being organized. His hope was that the rescue would take place before the Somalian pirates killed him.

    The narrator, George K. Wilson, was okay but did not bring authenticity as to whether the book was truth or fiction. I wasn't able to allow myself to become a part of the book. I listened with a sense of detachment.

    This memoir was different to other memoirs that I have listened to. Captain William's family became a part of the dialogue in the book. There were also friends and the clergy. There were repetitious fillers in the book. Those words did add length but did not add substance to the dialogue.

    I feel that there was a need to write this book and have it published because it was the first American vessel that was attacked by Somalian pirates. Apparently, piracy has become a Somalian's way of earning a salary that is more then the norm of $600.00 per year.

    Captain William's memoir again gave credence that one man's life is important and cannot be ignored. The rescue was organized and implemented. I'm very proud to be an American as Captain William's is himself.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Waterloo, IL, United States 01-15-14
    Joshua Waterloo, IL, United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2013
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    "More of a love story than a story of pirates"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The majority of the book book was boring. Its a love story about him and his wife. Not much action and everytime it does get interesting it reverts back to his wife and how strong she is.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Tell the story of samali pirates and not of some dude who thinks he's above other people cause he is irish and from boston. Its a regular man telling his story but because he is a Bostonian he has to let you know that about 500 times in the book. its annoying


    What three words best describe George K. Wilson’s voice?

    Not Scott Brick


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no way


    Any additional comments?

    don't waste your credit

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14 Member Since 2014

    Audible books are the perfect companion for my 4 mile morning walk!

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    "Just a bit too insufferable for my taste"
    What was most disappointing about Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty ’s story?

    I have to admit that I had a negative reaction to the book within the first 60 seconds, and I jumped through the chapters pretty quickly and ultimately returned the book without fully reading it. 1st person narratives are difficult to pull off, and this one seemed primarily focused on portraying Richard Phillips as the greatest captain, father, and whatever else of all time (while being quite willing to point out the flaws in the crew). I found it insufferable pretty quickly. Opening the book describing a torture scene, and basically having Phillips' describe his own reaction to torture as "that all you got?" was a macho message, and it might even have been accurate, but it wasn't something I wanted to listen to for a long period of time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Louise Burlington, KS, United States 10-12-13
    Linda Louise Burlington, KS, United States 10-12-13 Member Since 2015

    RETIRED & LOVING IT.

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    "EXCITING BOOK"

    I KNOW THIS BOOK HAS BEEN MADE INTO A MOVIE WITH TOM HANKS AS CAPTAIN PHILLIPS; HOWEVER, I HEARD A REVIEWER WHO HAS SEEN 112 MOVIES SO FAR THIS YEAR AND HE READ THE BOOK, AND STILL GAVE THE SCREENPLAY A 5 STAR. HE SAID, TOM HANKS JUST MADE THIS BOOK COME ALIVE. SO OF COURSE, I HAD TO READ THE BOOK. I CANNOT IMAGINE A MOVIE CAPTURING THE BACK-STORY AND ENDING AS WELL AS THE BOOK, WE WILL SEE. I JUST HAD TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS "HERO", CAPTAIN PHILLIPS AND HOW BRAVE AND TRUE TO HIMSELF HE WAS THAT ENABLED HIM TO SURVIVE A SOMALIA PIRATE ATTACK OF HIS CARGO SHIP. HE JUST TRICKED THESE KIDS UP ONE SIDE AND DOWN THE OTHER, UNTIL THEY LAUNCHED THE LIFE RAFT AND THEN THE WHOLE FORCE OF THEIR EVIL WAYS TESTED HIS WHOLE CHARACTER. HE SAID, "WE ALL HAVE THIS COURAGE WITHIN US, OURS HAS JUST GONE UNTESTED." "STICK TO YOUR BELIEFS THAT YOU CAN OVERCOME EVIL, EVEN DEATH", YOU STILL WILL WIN. BELIEVE ME, YOUR CREDIT WAS NEVER SPENT BETTER BY PLACING YOUR TRUST IN THIS BOOK. GET READY FOR A RIDE.

    12 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2012

    Avid marathoner and hi tech market analyst. Lover of Ken Follett, Christopher Moore, Timothy Zahn and any book that pulls me in.

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    "Harrowing but a bit distanced"

    Wow, if I ever thought this was the career for me, this book changes that in a heartbeat. What an incredible story. The movie version of this story definitely amps up the emotion and scariness, which might help sell the story to an audience. The book looks back on the events with a bit more distance which helps to convey the events very clearly but somewhat with less scariness. Either that or Richard Phillips is way more courageous than I will ever be. He is calm, cool and collected pretty much throughout this book which is either amazing or distance from the actual events. Either way, this is a great, great story that is definitely worth reading. The performance by Wilson probably could have been more dramatic but overall I'd recommend it. And I definitely recommend the movie. Well worth the Best Picture nod it got.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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