In this terse, terrifying study, Atlantic Monthly correspondent Langewiesche explores the high seas and finds anarchy: He reports that, of the 43,000 merchant vessels that ply the world's oceans, as many as 20 are thought to be owned or controlled by Osama bin Laden. He also notes that since America has 95,000 miles of coastline, keeping our shores safe is a matter of intelligence-gathering as well as luck. "By the time a ship pops over the horizon and pulls into port, little defense is possible," writes Langewiesche. For the author, who wrote the masterly American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center, the growing threat on the oceans is an example of free-market capitalism gone awry. Though ships can be rogue states unto themselves—rusty hulks owned by phantom corporations and flying "flags of convenience"—so much of the global economy depends on shipping that no international body attempts to monitor them. Punctuated with harrowing scenes of shipwrecks, oil spills and pirate attacks, The Outlaw Sea is impossible to put down.