The Outlaw Sea

The Struggle Between Civilization and the Sea

In an era when primal instincts are constantly checked by the civilities of modern life, it is easy for the American mind to fall prey to the strong delusion that civilization has no end. From the west coast to the east, laws are made and laws are kept. Yet the coasts which contain the world of laws are also the limits of that world, as William Langeweishe sets out to prove in his startling expose of maritime life, The Outlaw Sea. With an eloquent yet restrained pen in his hand, Langeweische charts his course into a world most "landlubbers" are unfamiliar with - a world in which pirates, ruthless greed, and self-preservation sail unrestrained towards ignoble destinies. Compiled from a series of articles originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, The Outlaw Sea is an impressive showcase for a master writer's talents, but suffers somewhat from structural flaws.

Although this book offers multiple "plot threads" for readers to delight in, Langeweische's leitmotiv seems to be the struggle between the civilized world on land and the "outlaw sea" which threatens to overtake it. To prove this point, he draws on compelling contemporary accounts of maritime mayhem, ranging from the devastatingly...

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