This is Michael Scott Moore, who edits Radio Free Mike. His website went dark while he was a hostage in Somalia, a brutal ordeal which lasted two and a half years. We’re happy to announce that the site is live again.

The title of this website is a sly reference to Radio Free Europe. “Radio Free Mike” is not some kind of nickname or handle.

His actual Twitter handle — @MichaelSctMoore — is of course a good way to keep up.

Mike is an novelist and journalist from California who lived in Berlin for twelve years, from 2005 till 2017. He went to Somalia in 2012 to research — among other topics — a gang of ten pirates on trial in Hamburg for trying to hijack the MV Taipan, a German cargo vessel.

His book about the hostage ordeal has been published by Harper Wave. He's also been known to speak in public about it.

Mike’s first book is is not autobiographical. Too Much of Nothing is a satirical L.A. novel narrated by a ghost, featuring a lot of exaggerated drug use and ridiculous misbehavior. The fictional town of Calaveras Beach might remind readers of Mark Twain. But the book has nothing to do with mining towns or jumping frogs. The Spanish word calavera simply means skeleton, or skull.

Here’s a calavera:

“Happy Dance and Wild Party of All the Skeletons,” by José Guadalupe Posada

José Posada drew hundreds of these lively-skeleton cartoons to illustrate satirical sheets written around the Day of the Dead. These broadsheets — also called calaveras — made fun of editors, politicians, society matrons, musicians: people high and low who forgot they were going to die.

The blog symbol on this website — mixed in with the calavera art — samples a little-known image of Berlin's TV tower. The tower itself is a big TV & radio broadcast antenna, in the center of Berlin, that outlived the East German regime which put it up. The artwork belongs to a now-ridiculous, but still arresting, canvas of German socialist fantasy:

Musiklehrhaft, 2. Klasse, 1969 (from an East German classroom music book, 2nd grade, 1969)

Our editor holds two passports. His mom’s German; his dad was American. His paternal grandfather was a mechanic from Cape Breton, Canada, named Daniel John Moore, and the grim simple dignity of those three names pleases him.

His friends just call him Mike.

All of us here at Radio Free Mike would like to thank the good people in the U.S. and Europe who worked for his release.

Speaking Events

September 04, 2018

USC Center on Public Diplomacy

12:00pm to 1:00pm

USC campus; ASC 207

Los Angeles, CA 90089

October 17, 2018

Mechanic’s Institute Library
Part of LitQuake

7pm (subject to change)

57 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94104

More Speaking Events


The men from the Naham 3 are all friends of mine — a crew of 26 sailors from southeast Asia who worked on a tuna long-liner flagged in Oman but owned by a company in Taiwan, which abandoned them after Somali pirates hijacked the ship in 2012.

While I was in Somalia a man called Geoff Carter wrote about a picture of Indian men surfing on stand-up boards around 1800 off Chennai, which altered the known history of surfing a bit, even though the picture was hiding in plain sight at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Some people have asked about the Somalia memoir. It’s right on schedule, I promise, but it won’t be out for at least another year. It’s been revised in full, twice (see above), and it’ll need a few more revisions before we get anywhere. Old-fashioned authorship. July, 2018?

A version of what happened in Somalia is available as a Long Read at The Guardian, and, in somewhat shorter form, for German readers, in Der Spiegel. It’s not even near complete. Enormous parts of the story have been left untold.



Kathy Robbins

509 Madison Ave.
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(212) 223-0720


Yelena Nesbit Harper Wave

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New York, NY 10007
(212) 207-7075