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Radio Free Mike: Mid-Continent Public Library

Michael Scott Moore | Journalist, novelist, former pirate hostage


The absurdity and horror of three years as a hostage by Somali pirates is the theme of Michael Scott Moore’s latest book as well as his thoughtful, gripping talks. He’s an international speaker and bestselling author who can discuss cognitive resilience and the arts of inner strength.

A gang of pirates kidnapped Michael in 2012 during a reporting trip to Somalia. They held him in bush camps, prison houses, and for several months on a hijacked tuna longliner anchored off the Somali coast. He’s the only modern Western writer to experience life on a vessel captured by pirates, and he survived 977 days as a hostage — over two and a half years — with surprising reserves of Stoic detachment, which helped him find strength in rotten circumstances.

Choose Your Misery: Inner Freedom as a Hostage, his signature talk, will teach audiences to adopt a liberating mindset and overcome what seem to be hopeless obstacles. Michael discusses the value of Stoicism, mindfulness, and even yoga to rise above cycles of hope and despair.

Make Yourself Small, a security-related lecture, deals with powerful self-discipline. One goal of hostage-takers is to destroy a captive’s sense of humanity and self-respect, and in this talk Michael discusses ways to survive and resist — when to make yourself small, and when not to.

Somali Pirates Gave Me Toothpaste and Soap: In this timely lecture, based on a tweet that quickly went viral, Michael discusses human trafficking and smuggling to developed countries, as well as the responses that lead to humanitarian nightmares on the US-Mexican border and Mediterranean Sea. Hostage-taking is a form of human traffic, Michael argues, and pirates and traffickers have always done business together.

He can give more topical lectures on the roots of modern piracy, Islam and hostage-taking, suicide and mental health, “Stockholm Syndrome,” and the sanity of forgiveness. He’s been featured on CBS This Morning, the New York Times, Morning Joe, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Colbert Report, BBC Outlook, Zeit Magazin (Germany), the Joe Rogan Experience, various NPR shows, and many other platforms and podcasts.

His bestselling memoir, The Desert and the Sea, has been lauded as “not only the definitive book on Somali pirates, but a remarkable work of literature, too.” He’s a skilled and witty storyteller who sets people at ease he with his native sense of humor, and he can guide an audience through dark emotional turmoil to the cognitive realignments needed to transcend the role of a victim.

Michael can lecture in English or German. He’s represented by the Lucinda Literary Speakers Bureau and travels from Los Angeles, California.

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An eye-opening experience for West Point cadets ... The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is incredibly appreciative to Mr. Moore, who was a pleasure to host, for his willingness to share his important insights with the future leaders of the U.S. military.

Dr. Jason Warner, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, West Point

Mike exudes the calm demeanor of a man who has been through so much; a man who was broken into pieces, and who found a beautiful, spiritual way to pick up those pieces and become whole again.

C. von Ludwig, Google LA

His riveting talk moved and inspired the entire audience with his message of forgiveness and the indomitable power of the human spirit.

Rabbi Yossi Refson, Center for Jewish Life, Charleston SC

Michael was extremely forthcoming, articulate, self-deprecating and unabashedly honest. He was a delight to work with, and I doubt that many in the audience will forget that evening — or Michael — for a long time to come.

Evy Warshawski, Napa Center for Thought & Culture

His visit to the Sorbonne was one of the highlights of the semester. The students were inspired and moved by his honesty and courage, and his talk prompted many interesting discussions, both during his visit and throughout the course.

Marie Doezema, CELSA, Sorbonne University, Paris

Hearing him talk was like listening to a short story unfold.

TEDxBeaconStreet audience member, 2016

Michael is represented by the Lucinda Literary Speakers Bureau


October 12, 2019

San Francisco Center for the Book
Part of LitQuake 2019
In conversation with Katherine Ellison and Frances Dinkelspiel
375 Rhode Island Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

October 22, 2019

The Last Bookstore
In conversation with Peter Theroux
453 S. Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

November 01, 2019

Mid-Continent Public Library
Story Center Speaker Series
Woodneath Library Center
8900 NE Flintlock Drive
Kansas City, MO

November 05, 2019

Middlebury College
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones ’59 House
148 Hillcrest Rd, Middlebury, VT 05753

November 07, 2019

Tattered Cover Bookstore
Historic LoDo Location
1628 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202

January 24, 2020

City of Calabasas
Special Speaker Series
Founders Hall
Behind Calabasas Library
200 Civic Center Way
Calabasas, CA 91302

February 20, 2020

European Hansemuseum Lübeck
Part of a special series on pirates
in German
An der Untertrave 1
Lübeck, Germany

clients & platforms:

Michael Scott Moore is a journalist and a novelist, author of a comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, as well as a travel book about surfing, Sweetness and Blood, which was named a best book of 2010 by The Economist. He’s won Fulbright, Logan, and Pulitzer Center grants for his nonfiction; Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships for his fiction.

He worked for several years as an editor and writer at Spiegel Online in Berlin. He was kidnapped in early 2012 on a reporting trip to Somalia and held hostage by pirates for 32 months. The Desert and the Sea, a memoir about that ordeal, is out now from HarperCollins.

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My review of Ingrid Betancourt's first novel, The Blue Line, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

While I was in Somalia a man called Geoff Carter wrote about a picture of Indian men surfing on stand-up boards around 1800 off Chennai, which altered the known history of surfing a bit, even though the picture was hiding in plain sight at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The men from the Naham 3 are all friends of mine — a crew of 26 sailors from southeast Asia who worked on a tuna long-liner flagged in Oman but owned by a company in Taiwan, which abandoned them after Somali pirates hijacked the ship in 2012.

A version of what happened in Somalia is available as a Long Read at The Guardian, and, in somewhat shorter form, for German readers, in Der Spiegel. It’s not even near complete. Enormous parts of the story have been left untold.



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