Bodley Head makes a splash with Urbina’s seas exposé

Bodley Head makes a splash with Urbina’s seas exposé

Bodley Head will publish Pulitzer Prize-winner Ian Urbina’s exposé of the criminal world of the high seas in October.

The New York Times reporter's The Outlaw Ocean: Crime and Survival in the Last Untamed Frontier follows five years of research, including three spent at sea uncovering "the inhabitants of this hidden world".

Will Hammond, deputy publishing director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Grainne Fox at Fletcher & Co and the book will be published in in October 2019. Film and TV rights for The Outlaw Ocean have been bought by Leonardo DiCaprio and Netflix.

It is billed as “a riveting, adrenaline-fuelled tour of a vast, lawless and rampantly criminal world that few have ever seen: the high seas”.

“Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortionists, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways: drawing on five years of perilous and intrepid reporting, often hundreds of miles from shore, Urbina introduces us to the inhabitants of this hidden world and their risk-fraught lives,” the publisher said. The author “uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation that emanates from the fishing, oil and shipping industries, and on which the world’s economies rely”.

“Both a gripping adventure story and a stunning exposé, this unique work of reportage brings fully into view for the first time the disturbing reality of a floating world that connects us all, a place where anyone can do anything because no one is watching.”

Hammond said: “The Outlaw Ocean is a benchmark work of reportage of outstanding literary quality. Thanks to Ian's fearless, tireless investigations and his mastery of his craft, this hitherto unknown world is brought to the reader as a panoramic, immersive and all-consuming human drama.”

Urbina is based in Washington. The book began life as a series of articles for the New York Times which won seven awards. He is a reporter for the paper where his investigations have covered oil and mining disasters, sex trafficking, high-school shooting, criminal justice, worker safety and the environment and won the Pulitzer in 2009.

His previous book Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore was published in America 2005 by Macmillan.