After hearing New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul call Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean “one of the best narrative non-fiction books by a journalist I've ever read,” we instantly decided to invite Ian on Book Dreams and were thrilled when he accepted. A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Ian based The Outlaw Ocean on five years of reporting on the lawlessness of the high seas. We spoke with Ian about atrocities committed at sea–including murder, human trafficking, and environmental devastation–and why the oceans “often get exploited more than protected.” We talked, too, about what there is to learn about human nature and the potentially devastating consequences of capitalism in the absence of just and enforced governance. Our conversation took an unexpected and shocking turn when we asked Ian about the dangers he has faced while reporting from some of the most perilous places in the world. This is an episode you will want to listen to until the very end.
Ian Urbina spent roughly 17 years as a staff reporter for The New York Times. He's received various journalism awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a George Polk Award, and an Emmy nomination. The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier is a New York Times bestseller. Ian is now Director of The Outlaw Ocean Project, a nonprofit journalism organization based in Washington, D.C. that produces investigative stories about human rights, environment, and labor concerns on the two-thirds of the planet that is covered by water.
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier
"The Outlaw Ocean brings the reader up close to an overwhelming truth... An impressive feat of reporting... Urbina deftly reveals complicated ideas through his stories." —The Washington Post
"The Outlaw Ocean is enriched by Urbina’s gifted storytelling about the destruction of marine life and the murder, crime, and piracy that make the seas so dangerous for those who make their living on them." —The National Book Review
“These chapters are vibrant as individual stories, but as a collection they’re transcendent, rendering a complex portrait of an unseen and disturbing world. Urbina pursues a depth of reportage that’s rare because of the guts and diligence it requires… The result is not just a fascinating read, but a truly important document… It is a master class in journalism.” —Blair Braverman, The New York Times Book Review