Deep Sea and Foreign Going

Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Brings You 90% of Everything

Rose George

Published: 3 July 2014
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781846272998

Other Editions

Trade Paperback

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Published: 5 September 2013
Trade Paperback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781846272639

Ebook Available


There are 100,000 freighters on the seas. Between them they carry nearly everything we eat, wear and work with. In this unique investigation, Rose George joins the crew of a container ship to chart the murky waters of international shipping, with its powerful naval fleets, pirate gangs, and illegal floating factories, to reveal the hidden industry upon which our world turns and our future depends.

About the author

Image of Rose George

Rose George began writing in 1994, as an intern at The Nation. Later, she became senior editor and writer at COLORS, the bilingual "global magazine about local cultures" published in 80 countries and based first in Rome, then Paris, then Venice. In 1999, she moved to London and began a freelance career, and has since written for the New York Times, Guardian, Independent, London Review of Books and many others. She has been war correspondent in Kosovo forCondé Nast Traveler magazine; reported on an alternative World Cup final in Bhutan between Bhutan and Montserrat (Bhutan won); and attended Saddam Hussein's birthday party, twice. Rose's first book, A Life Removed: Hunting for Refuge in the Modern World, explored the daily reality of being a refugee, focusing on the situation of the millions of people displaced by Liberia's awful wars. Her second book isThe Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste/The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters, published by Portobello (UK) and Metropolitan (US). It was judged one of the best books of 2008 by The Economist, and one of the top ten science books of the same year by the American Library Association. She is currently working on a book about shipping. Rose received a congratulatory first-class honours BA in modern languages from the University of Oxford in 1992, and an MA in international politics in 1994 from the University of Pennsylvania. She speaks fluent French and Italian and lives sometimes in Yorkshire, sometimes in a former hotel (three floors; one toilet) in south-west France; and as often as possible on a ship. More about the author


‘[An] engaging voyage through the shady world of international shipping’



‘A fascinating exploration of the world of container shipping’

‘A marvel of information, insight and intelligence laced with humour, humanity and high spirits’ Iain Finlayson

‘A remarkable work of embedded reportage - hair-raising, witty, compassionate - that deserves to be read’

‘A stunningly detailed and absorbing piece of investigative journalism, combined with a gripping and very human account of a long sea journey, with all its loneliness, fears, and moments of magic’ Michael Jacobs, author

‘A very good book’ Michael Burleigh

‘A very important book. [George] has vision and curiosity [and she] really does ask the right questions. You should read this book’

‘Absorbing [and] engrossing’

‘Arresting, sharply observed, deeply researched and compelling... Plenty of books promise to reveal the secrets of little-known worlds but few actually deliver. This is one that does’ Melanie McGrath

‘As fascinating as it is troublingly insightful... This is a remarkable work of embedded reportage - hair-raising, witty, compassionate - that deserves to be read’ Sukhdev Sandhu

‘Beautifully captures the surprising nuances of this little-known world... [George's] strong, spare, gleaming prose steams along, powered by curiosity, compassion, outrage. As a writer, a reporter, and a human being, George is-stand by for nautical term-First Rate’ Mary Roach, author

‘Cleverly constructed, carefully researched, moving, vivid... Thoughtful and provocative, written with style and passion’

‘Excellent... panoramic’ Boyd Tonkin


‘Fascinating and insightful’

‘Few readers will be left in any doubt as to the importance of this opaque industry on which we all depend’ Sarah Mishkin

‘From the always intriguing catalogue of Portobello Books, [this book] goes behind the scenes of those mammoth vessels that ply the oceans bringing us all our lovely stuff’ Melissa Katsoulis

‘Interesting, relevant, and [full of] surprising facts’

‘It is a travelogue of sorts, written in clear, straightforward English, about the people, pirates and machinery that make up the modern maritime industry’


‘She uncovers many serious (and murky) issues’ Pascal Lamy, Former Director General of WTO, Best Books of the Year

‘The two greatest stories are supposed to be "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town". In this enthralling, literally wide-ranging book, George tells both: she goes on a voyage that few other journalists have accomplished, and she unveils the unknown seafarers who bring us all the world's goods. Sympathetic, deeply reported and unexpectedly poignant’ Maryn McKenna, author

‘To the classic incredible journeys-Moby Dick, Two Years Before the Mast-George adds another, her voyage round the world aboard a container ship, revealing what happens before the big bang of merchandise explodes from the high seas into civilization’ Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer, author

‘With her precise and beautiful clarity of prose, [George] has now fired a brilliant star-shell over the wine-dark sea and the ships that pass in its night, illuminating the details of the invisible ocean industry that is, and always will be, essential to all of us’ Simon Winchester, author

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