The open ocean--that vast expanse of international waters--spreads across three-fourths of the globe. It is a place of storms and danger, both natural and manmade. And at a time when every last patch of land is claimed by one government or another, it is a place that remains radically free.
With typically understated lyricism, William Langewiesche explores this ocean world and the enterprises--licit and illicit--that flourish in the privacy afforded by its horizons. But its efficiencies are accompanied by global problems--shipwrecks and pollution, the hard lives and deaths of the crews of the gargantuan ships, and the growth of two pathogens: a modern and sophisticated strain of piracy and its close cousin, the maritime form of the new stateless terrorism.
This is the outlaw sea that Langewiesche brings startlingly into view. The ocean is our world, he reminds us, and it is wild.