The author's search for pirates began when he was living in Singapore, after hearing a report on the BBC World Service's "East Asia Today" programme of yet another hijacking of a ship in the South China Sea and how the Singapore government in particular was calling for immediate action to stamp out sea piracy once and for all. Until then his image of the pirate had been a romantic, storybook one. The remote tropical coastlines and numerous scattered islands of the South China Sea around Malaysia and Indonesia are host to one third of the world's commercial shipping which passes through the narrow straits of Malacca and Singapore. At any time, hundreds of ships can be seen there, either passing through or at anchor. With little water between their valuable cargoes and the poor people on the shore, this conveyor-belt of glittering prizes must prove an irresistible temptation. This is a detailed analysis of the factual and historic details of piracy in the South China Sea, as well as a broad exploration of the cultural and economic climate which makes this area the most dangerous area for shipping in the world.
Rob Stuart divides his time between freelance journalism and television. He is married with two daughters and lives both in Cheshire and, when possible, in mid-Wales.