Rose George’s recent book, “Ninety Percent of Everything,” offers an outsider’s look inside an immensely important, but remarkably obscure industry. George is a stranger on a strange sea, but she is able to enter deeply into the world of the shipping industry in a short time.
Her writing is clear, elegant and direct, making even discussions of shipping’s many acronyms and abbreviations—TEUs, UNCLOS, IMO, MARPOL, ECDIS—compelling.
George brings the personal into a world that has grown ever more distant and impersonal. She gains her entry into the closed world of shipping by traveling as a “supernumerary,” a working guest (her book is the work) on the Maersk Kendal.
She also joins a European Union Naval Force vessel, the Vasco de Gama, to see firsthand the international efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.