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The Outlaw Ocean

Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier
Narrated by: Jason Culp, Ian Urbina
Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"A riveting, terrifying, thrilling story of a netherworld that few people know about, and fewer will ever see.... The soul of this book is as wild as the ocean itself." (Susan Casey, best-selling author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean)

A riveting, adrenaline-fueled tour of a vast, lawless and rampantly criminal world that few have ever seen: the high seas.

There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world's oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to rampant criminality and exploitation. 

Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion providers, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways - drawing on five years of perilous and intrepid reporting, often hundreds of miles from shore, Ian Urbina introduces us to the inhabitants of this hidden world. Through their stories of astonishing courage and brutality, survival and tragedy, he uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation that emanates from the fishing, oil and shipping industries, and on which the world's economies rely. 

Both a gripping adventure story and a stunning exposé, this unique work of reportage brings fully into view for the first time the disturbing reality of a floating world that connects us all, a place where anyone can do anything because no one is watching. 

“Not just a stunning read, this book is a gripping chronicle of the watery wild west and it shows us - frankly unlike anything I've read before - how global indifference can trap innocent people in endless cycles of exploitation, how the vast ocean has become a danger zone, and ultimately how we all pay a price for this mayhem and mistreatment." (John Kerry, former Secretary of State and founder of the Our Ocean Conference)

©2019 Ian Urbina (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Imagine a fantasy movie in which an explorer from Earth arrives on the surface of a living planet, to discover a lawless place where brutality is the only order and greed and fear the only motivators. Welcome to The Outlaw Ocean. In this utterly groundbreaking, often disturbing book, Ian Urbina has put his life on the line to lay bare the stunning inhumanity that reigns unchecked over two-thirds of Earth’s surface. This constantly astonishing book is seasoned with rare heroes - the author himself among them - who at great risk have weaponized their lifelong quest to shine righteous light and apply justice to the cruel anarchy that reigns over the majority of the planet.” (Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words and Song for the Blue Ocean)

“Our planet is 70% ocean and yet to watch the TV or read the papers you'd have little idea humans ever ventured offshore. Thanks to Ian Urbina for beginning to close the reporting gap, and for showing the high drama to be found on the high seas." (Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?)

“In The Outlaw Ocean, Ian Urbina offers a gripping series of portraits of scofflaws, renegades, con men, vigilantes and activists whose combat on the open seas has profound effect on our everyday lives and the world we inhabit. It’s a wild adventure story and terrifying cautionary tale, that should not be missed.” (Sam Walker, former deputy enterprise editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of The Captain Class

What members say

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Highly recommended!

Both the writing and narration are excellent. I can honestly say that the author conducted some truly intrepid and impressive reporting for this book. The human right abuses that he chronicles in this book are both shocking and underreported. A quite engaging listen. Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Disappointed

The story is very interesting and thought provoking but as an audiobook I could never get through it. The reader is montone and dry. I am disappointed that I do see an option to return this book after only listening to one chapter.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very insightful and extremely interesting

This author is a journalist and he traveled the worlds oceans exploring just what is going on with the people who do everything from fish to drill to live on the ocean, just about every chapter is a new story with new characters and I found these stories so interesting. The author put an amazing amount of time and effort into the investigations into the subjects of this book and it shows, this is a well told book with an excellent narrator. I was very glad for the most part the book does not come across as preachy or political he gives you the facts as he sees it and leaves the rest to the reader, thank you for that it is an incredible journey great job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Real Eye-Opener & Necessary Read

Ian Urbina taks the reader on a rollercoaster ride, with mind-blowing accounts of life and business at sea, just beyond the reach of the just, or at least where the good guy's hands are tied behind their backs. An amazing depiction of courageous people facing the most abusive & dishonest companies & governments on the planet.
This is a must-read.

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  • Loren
  • Park City, Utah, United States
  • 10-08-19

Window on a World We Will Never See

The author spent years, lots of money, and risked his life to witness the kinds of things that happen in the open ocean.

It is more of a story of the small ship/vulnerable individuals rather than large scale geopolitics, but that is the story that is least reported.

You will look at seafood and the oceans differently after reading this book.

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Gripping Tale of Humans Unleashed

Beyond the 12 mile limit, life on the high seas is ruled by greed, and speed. The costs of misery are staggering, but “out of sight, is out of mind.

The mayhem & murder spill across jurisdictions, often allowing criminals to go unpunished. Slavery, abuse, and worse are all to common beyond the veil of landlubber justice. One suspects that we are just scratching the surface with this extraordinarily powerful report of life on the high seas.

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Kept my interest.

Fact based , no propaganda good book.
I stand corrected, Unions can serve a purpose. In this circumstance.