Book Review / Non Fiction / Pirate Book / Post WWII / Terry Mcknight / Us Navy

Pirate Alley, by RADM Terry McKnight and Michael Hirsh

Pirate Alley is a little outside the normal for this blog. Sure, it’s about pirates. And about naval action. But while it reads like fiction, it is unfortunately not fiction. For unpleasant as it may be, piracy is for real, and this book is written by a former commander of US Task Force 151 off Somalia. It’s the real deal. It’s subtiteled “Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia“, and that’s what it is about.

Piracy off the coast of Africa is a major international problem. It is important to notice that piracy is a problem in many other areas as well; the pirates off the coast of Africa simply get the most attention. The author of this book directed operations that disrupted several hijackings and resulted in the capture of sixteen Somali pirates. After running head-on into a U.S. policy of catch-and-release, he realized that there was more to fighting piracy than just catching youngsters armed with AK-47s and RPGs.

Pirate Alley, co-written with journalist Michael Hirsh, is a very readable yet authoritative introduction to the subject. The authors explore every aspect of Somali piracy, from how the pirates operate to how their actions have impacted the world economy. They examine various attempts to solve the problem, including placing armed guards aboard merchant ships and highlight the best ways to outfit ships for travel through high-risk areas. It’s an interesting and important book!

“Terry McKnight brings unparalleled experience and exceptional insight to bear on how the Navy can better address the modern piracy issue. Nor does he rest on his laurels; he addresses the issue with comprehensive research and interviews, as well as an open mind, as he looks at all the options. He offers ideas and solutions, and then backs them with well-considered reasoning. A must-read for anyone struggling with this complex issue.”

–Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA)

“Pirate Alley is a compelling read that vividly shows how difficult it is to deal with the situation in the seas off Somalia. For the first time we hear from a pirate hunter and see the pride of those sailors serving under him, from a variety of navies. But there is also frustration from those like McKnight who must grapple with government bureaucracies, political interference, and commercial indifference to the plight of thousands of people.”

–Daniel Sekulich, author of Terror on the Seas: True Tales of Modern Day Pirates and Ocean Titans