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


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 is the author of A Life Removed: Hunting for Refuge in the Modern World (long-listed for the Ulysses Reportage Prize), The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste (Portobello, 2008; shortlisted for the BMA Book Prize) and Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Brings You 90% of Everything (Portobello, 2013; winner of a Mountbatten Maritime Award), and Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Mysterious, Miraculous World of Blood (Portobello, 2018). Rose writes frequently for the Guardian, New Statesman and many other publications, and her two TED talks, on sanitation and seafaring, have had 3 million views. 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’

‘A very well researched and written appreciation of the modern maritime industry and most of its people’

‘Absorbing’ Ed Power

‘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] troublingly insightful. This is a remarkable work of embedded reportage - hair-raising, witty, compassionate - that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the cartographies of the contemporary world’ Sukhdev Sandu

‘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

‘In a work of great insight and sympathy, George conveys the monotony and loneliness of the modern commercial sailor's life while also describing the omnipresent dangers’ Tom Moriarty

‘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

‘Very readable and compelling’

‘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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