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Piracy Today

While pirates in adventure tales are often daring and heroic, modern-day piracy is a very grave matter.

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"Piracy Today: Fighting Villainy on the High Seas" ($29.95, Sheridan House, Inc., 2010) by John C. Payne gives a no-holds-barred look at very real and frightening accounts of modern attacks, such as the April 2009 hijacking of the container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. There was a second unsuccessful hijacking attempt of the same vessel in November of the same year.

Payne details how these pirates are armed with AK-47s and small rocket launchers, and how they take advantage of international law, lax enforcement and understaffed ships. The hardcover book includes maps and black-and-white photos of notable pirate attacks, as well as a final discussion on what can be done to stop this threat to every sailor.

Payne is a professional marine electrical engineer who has spent 35 years afloat on merchant ships and offshore oil industry vessels. He is a qualified maritime safety auditor and marine surveyor as well as a pleasure cruiser, and is currently working in Asia and the Middle East on various professional maritime and offshore projects. He has published more than a dozen books, including "The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible." For information, visit

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue.