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Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30

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Melting ice, a military arms race, the rush to exploit resources at any cost—the Arctic is now the stage on which our future will be decided. And as temperatures rise and the ice retreats, Vladimir Putin orders Russia’s oil rigs to move north. But one early September morning in 2013 thirty men and women from eighteen countries—the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise—decide Melting ice, a military arms race, the rush to exploit resources at any cost—the Arctic is now the stage on which our future will be decided. And as temperatures rise and the ice retreats, Vladimir Putin orders Russia’s oil rigs to move north. But one early September morning in 2013 thirty men and women from eighteen countries—the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise—decide to draw a line in the ice and protest the drilling in the Arctic. Thrown together by a common cause, they are determined to stop Putin and the oligarchs. But their protest is met with brutal force as Putin’s commandos seize the Arctic Sunrise. Held under armed guard by masked men, they are charged with piracy and face fifteen years in Russia’s nightmarish prison system. Ben Stewart—a key member of the campaign to release the Arctic 30—tells an astonishing tale of passion, courage, brutality, and survival. With wit, verve, and candor, he chronicles the extraordinary friendships the activists made with their often murderous cellmates, their battle to outwit the prison guards, and the struggle to stay true to the cause that brought them there.


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Melting ice, a military arms race, the rush to exploit resources at any cost—the Arctic is now the stage on which our future will be decided. And as temperatures rise and the ice retreats, Vladimir Putin orders Russia’s oil rigs to move north. But one early September morning in 2013 thirty men and women from eighteen countries—the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise—decide Melting ice, a military arms race, the rush to exploit resources at any cost—the Arctic is now the stage on which our future will be decided. And as temperatures rise and the ice retreats, Vladimir Putin orders Russia’s oil rigs to move north. But one early September morning in 2013 thirty men and women from eighteen countries—the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise—decide to draw a line in the ice and protest the drilling in the Arctic. Thrown together by a common cause, they are determined to stop Putin and the oligarchs. But their protest is met with brutal force as Putin’s commandos seize the Arctic Sunrise. Held under armed guard by masked men, they are charged with piracy and face fifteen years in Russia’s nightmarish prison system. Ben Stewart—a key member of the campaign to release the Arctic 30—tells an astonishing tale of passion, courage, brutality, and survival. With wit, verve, and candor, he chronicles the extraordinary friendships the activists made with their often murderous cellmates, their battle to outwit the prison guards, and the struggle to stay true to the cause that brought them there.

30 review for Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    Yes, certainly I'm biased, so with little hesitation I give five stars to this book. I admit up front to being a Greenpeace activist. The direct actions that I have been involved with have been pathetic little protests, when compared to the audacious bravery exhibited by the 'Arctic 30'. 'Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg', published in 2015, is Ben Stewart's gripping account of the crew of the Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' that in 2013 staged a peaceful protest in the Barents Sea against Rus Yes, certainly I'm biased, so with little hesitation I give five stars to this book. I admit up front to being a Greenpeace activist. The direct actions that I have been involved with have been pathetic little protests, when compared to the audacious bravery exhibited by the 'Arctic 30'. 'Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg', published in 2015, is Ben Stewart's gripping account of the crew of the Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' that in 2013 staged a peaceful protest in the Barents Sea against Russia's oil rush, by attempting to shut down Gazprom's oil platform, some one hundred and eighty miles inside the Arctic Circle. I have sailed in these latitudes and I know from experience that, baby it's cold outside! So it is easy for me to have great admiration for people who jump into inflatable boats, scale massive structures and get hit with freezing water from high powered hoses and attacked by military thugs from Vladimir Putin's Federal Security Bureau. It is a very extraordinary story, told with some humour with included diary writings from some members of the crew of 'Arctic Sunrise', who, after arrest for piracy, faced ten to fifteen years in Russian jails. The account is very well written, with shades of light and dark. Documenting the international chess game between the environmental group, fighting for the release of their activists, and the powers in the Kremlin. Yet it is the human drama of the men and women incarcerated in frightening conditions in the prisons of Murmansk and St. Petersburg, not knowing their fate, that makes this book a thrilling page turner. Sir Paul McCartney provides the Foreword and the author's royalties are being donated to environmental groups. I also like the Kurt Vonnegut quote that opens this book, 'Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.'

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paulcbry

    This is a very well written book about 30 very brave people who decided to take a determined stand against the status quo. I actually had never heard of the Artic 30 before reading this book. The narrative moves right along taking you from the initial incident to subsequent arrests to harrowing incarceration. Global warming is real and both the author and the Artic 30 underscore just what is at stake. A Russian turma belongs in the same category as the dreaded gulag which held political prison This is a very well written book about 30 very brave people who decided to take a determined stand against the status quo. I actually had never heard of the Artic 30 before reading this book. The narrative moves right along taking you from the initial incident to subsequent arrests to harrowing incarceration. Global warming is real and both the author and the Artic 30 underscore just what is at stake. A Russian turma belongs in the same category as the dreaded gulag which held political prisoners.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Roy Carr

    I picked up this book as the title and synopsis intrigued me. I would never consider myself an activist, nor do I pretend to have extensive knowledge of Greenpeace or the topic of the protest. However what a gripping read and so much depth in the stories being told; from the experience of 30 activist arrested, the details of the prisons they are detained in and also the story of the lawyers and activists back home campaigning for their release. Also some lovely action scenes at the start. Amazin I picked up this book as the title and synopsis intrigued me. I would never consider myself an activist, nor do I pretend to have extensive knowledge of Greenpeace or the topic of the protest. However what a gripping read and so much depth in the stories being told; from the experience of 30 activist arrested, the details of the prisons they are detained in and also the story of the lawyers and activists back home campaigning for their release. Also some lovely action scenes at the start. Amazing book thoroughly recomend.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jyl

    A must read for the wanna be activist. Definitively a page turner that is hard to stop.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire Melanie

    This is an extraordinarily well written account of the experiences of some of the Arctic 30 and their support crew. It's insightful, unflinching and does not shy away from discussing the divisions amongst the 30 that their arrest caused and the human fragility of these individuals in difficult and frightening circumstances. I loved it and found it very inspiring. What an incredible and brave action in truly desperate times This is an extraordinarily well written account of the experiences of some of the Arctic 30 and their support crew. It's insightful, unflinching and does not shy away from discussing the divisions amongst the 30 that their arrest caused and the human fragility of these individuals in difficult and frightening circumstances. I loved it and found it very inspiring. What an incredible and brave action in truly desperate times

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brian Fitzgerald

    Cracking good read. Beautiful insights into the nature of activism, the inner workings of the Russian prison system, and the humanity and heroism of the Greenpeace activists detained in Russia.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg by Ben Stewart, the head of media for Greenpeace, is the story of the 30 Greenpeace activists who stormed the Russian oil drilling platform north of the Arctic Circle in 2013. The group was seized by Russian commandos, jailed and faced the possibility of imprisonment for piracy, a 15-year sentence. They spent three months in Russian prison, and were finally released after much publicity prior to the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Though they were not treated as badly a Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg by Ben Stewart, the head of media for Greenpeace, is the story of the 30 Greenpeace activists who stormed the Russian oil drilling platform north of the Arctic Circle in 2013. The group was seized by Russian commandos, jailed and faced the possibility of imprisonment for piracy, a 15-year sentence. They spent three months in Russian prison, and were finally released after much publicity prior to the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Though they were not treated as badly as Russian prisoners, they still were kept under harsh conditions with bad food, horrible interrogations and for some practically solitary confinement. The group represented about 18 countries, and most of them did not speak Russian. Mostly, it is a fast paced book with amazing detail. Stewart captured the brutality, the passion and the courage of this experience vividly and clearly. Sometimes he focused on too much detail and repeated himself in various chapters, but mostly he was able to capture the true essence of what these activists believed in and what they endured because of their passionate natures to save the world from destruction. The planet is warming, arctic ice is melting and we cannot afford to burn more fossil fuels—that’s why these activists did what they did. Climate change is real! Stewart establishes that Putin is clearly the thug that we know him to be. The saying in Russian jails is Ne ver ne boysya ne prosi: don't trust, don't fear, don't beg. "Don't trust because life here will always disappoint you. Don't fear because whatever you're scared of, you are powerless to prevent it. And don't beg because nobody ever begged their way out of a Russian prison cell."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This is the story of 30 Greenpeace activists who in 2013 mounted a protest against the first offshore oil drilling rig in the Arctic -- Prirazlomnaya, operated by Russia's national oil company Gazprom -- were arrested and faced the threat of long sentences in Russian prison. They were released by Putin after about three months and a massive international campaign to free them. The book is a really exciting read. The scenes of the protest and arrest by the Russian Coast Guard play out like an act This is the story of 30 Greenpeace activists who in 2013 mounted a protest against the first offshore oil drilling rig in the Arctic -- Prirazlomnaya, operated by Russia's national oil company Gazprom -- were arrested and faced the threat of long sentences in Russian prison. They were released by Putin after about three months and a massive international campaign to free them. The book is a really exciting read. The scenes of the protest and arrest by the Russian Coast Guard play out like an action movie, but it's the prison chapters that really go deep into the meaning of activism, sacrifice, panic, regret, fear, hope. (The book title is a prison saying that gives advice for how to survive.) To give one example, one of the 30 was born in exile in Siberia the child of three generations of Soviet dissidents, making him the fourth of his family to spend time in a Russian jail for his beliefs. The culture of the prison was also fascinating, from the official Kafka-esque bureaucracy to the informal networks that ran things behind the scenes. Still, the uncertainty and the weight of worry must have been a nightmare for all involved. (Full disclosure, I work for Greenpeace, but this story was before my time.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This book really put my work into perspective. I work as a digital campaigner at Greenpeace. It has been over 6 years since the Arctic Sunrise and the 30 activists on board were detained by the Russian government on unfounded charges of piracy during a peaceful protest on an oil rig in the Arctic. Over 6 years have passed but we are still working against the exploitation of the Arctic for fossil fuels. As we move into a year-long push for the establishment of ocean sanctuaries worldwide, this bo This book really put my work into perspective. I work as a digital campaigner at Greenpeace. It has been over 6 years since the Arctic Sunrise and the 30 activists on board were detained by the Russian government on unfounded charges of piracy during a peaceful protest on an oil rig in the Arctic. Over 6 years have passed but we are still working against the exploitation of the Arctic for fossil fuels. As we move into a year-long push for the establishment of ocean sanctuaries worldwide, this book gives me fuel. I am continuing the activism of these fearless people and continuing their legacy. I hope that very soon there will be a new edition of this book with the update that we were successful in our fight against fossil fuels in the Arctic!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Analena

    I have been volunteering for Greenpeace when this happened already so I was fairly familiar with the story, which might be the reason why I was not at the edge of my seat when reading this. I did like the book, the story of the Arctic30 is gripping for sure, but yet the story-telling did not have me immersed in the book. I cannot quite put my finger on why. Nonetheless, the actual story is amazing, the details about what went on in the prisons, the behind the scenes knowledge on what the activis I have been volunteering for Greenpeace when this happened already so I was fairly familiar with the story, which might be the reason why I was not at the edge of my seat when reading this. I did like the book, the story of the Arctic30 is gripping for sure, but yet the story-telling did not have me immersed in the book. I cannot quite put my finger on why. Nonetheless, the actual story is amazing, the details about what went on in the prisons, the behind the scenes knowledge on what the activists endured is very interesting and mind-boggling to read about. I would recommend the book for (aspiring) activists for any cause, yet, it was not one of my top reads for sure...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Maybe it has a sense to live such experience at least once in your life, or in your professional life, in this case. You highly risk to see your values modified, but if not, and if it still takes you only a time of a few dismal recollections to decide to make or not to make this leap forward down in the ice cold water, it definitely means that you picked up the right path. "It feels like being born again". Such a Russian roller coaster which brings you back to life (may become a touristic attrac Maybe it has a sense to live such experience at least once in your life, or in your professional life, in this case. You highly risk to see your values modified, but if not, and if it still takes you only a time of a few dismal recollections to decide to make or not to make this leap forward down in the ice cold water, it definitely means that you picked up the right path. "It feels like being born again". Such a Russian roller coaster which brings you back to life (may become a touristic attraction).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tony Grady

    I have to admit that the events around Greenpeace protest at a Russian oil platform, and its consequences, largely passed me by back in 2013. This book, capturing the stories of a number of the Arctic 30, is both uplifting and frightening. Uplifting, in seeing the courage of those detained in an archaic and brutal prison system, and the determination and sacrifice of those working to set them free. Frightening, and disturbing, to discover that such treatment and political game playing is still t I have to admit that the events around Greenpeace protest at a Russian oil platform, and its consequences, largely passed me by back in 2013. This book, capturing the stories of a number of the Arctic 30, is both uplifting and frightening. Uplifting, in seeing the courage of those detained in an archaic and brutal prison system, and the determination and sacrifice of those working to set them free. Frightening, and disturbing, to discover that such treatment and political game playing is still tolerated in today's world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Not exactly what I expected. The book largely takes place in the Russian prison and expected a little more about the specific event that led them there. It is really interesting - perhaps more so from the operation of the Russian prison (and general Russian legal system) rather than the activism angle. For a non-fiction book it is quite character driven and even funny in places. I don't think you have to have an interest in Greenpeace to like this book. Not exactly what I expected. The book largely takes place in the Russian prison and expected a little more about the specific event that led them there. It is really interesting - perhaps more so from the operation of the Russian prison (and general Russian legal system) rather than the activism angle. For a non-fiction book it is quite character driven and even funny in places. I don't think you have to have an interest in Greenpeace to like this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mahri Nicholson

    An excellent read about the 30 activists imprisoned by Putin in 2013 for protesting drilling in the Arctic. A true story but written like a thriller so a super quick read, I read it in 1 day

  15. 4 out of 5

    Claudia☾

    ❤️

  16. 5 out of 5

    Antonio

    Interesting description but somewhat boring. I didn’t finish it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissandre

    Excellent book! Very gripping, engaging and inspiring.

  18. 5 out of 5

    N

    Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg is a brick of a book and I'll admit I put off reading it for a few weeks. More fool me, because it's actually an exciting, quick read. It's partly a snapshot of a political movement (Greenpeace); partly a real-life thriller (what happens when Greenpeace activists are arrested during a direct action); and partly a prison soap opera (they're arrested in Russia... yikes). This could have been a turgid read, but where Ben Stewart succeeds is by zeroing in on the indi Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg is a brick of a book and I'll admit I put off reading it for a few weeks. More fool me, because it's actually an exciting, quick read. It's partly a snapshot of a political movement (Greenpeace); partly a real-life thriller (what happens when Greenpeace activists are arrested during a direct action); and partly a prison soap opera (they're arrested in Russia... yikes). This could have been a turgid read, but where Ben Stewart succeeds is by zeroing in on the individual stories, and teasing out not only the fearfulness of the situation but also the ridiculousness. The most memorable part of the book for me is when one jailed activist, a vegan, is grudgingly given a prison diet of potatoes -- more potatoes than she could ever eat, which accumulate horrifyingly in her cell, pushing her to more and more extreme attempts to get rid of the damn potatoes. It's stranger than fiction and better than fiction. Of course, the cast of characters is so broad (30 of 'em, natch) that not every story can be told. Some of the activists are simply mentioned without any elaboration, and even those individuals whose stories are followed the whole way through tend to blur together. Also, as a snapshot of a movement and of a moment, it's inevitably limited. There's an ending, when -- spoiler alert for, uh, THE NEWS -- the activists are released, but despite this, the book ends with a strong sense of many many threads left loose and unravelling. Despite this, I'd recommend it. I've read a lot of books about activists and few are as clear-eyed and non-sensationalistic as this one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This tells the story of the Greenpeace Arctic 30, who tried to prevent the Russians from drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean, were boarded by Russian Special Forces, arrested and sent to jail until Putin decided what to do with them. This is more a story about Putin’s Russia and his prisons as experienced by the Greenpeace people who found themselves incarcerated within them. I’m not sure how many of the rough edges had been burnished off - the Russian prisoners all seem like right-on dudes, in This tells the story of the Greenpeace Arctic 30, who tried to prevent the Russians from drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean, were boarded by Russian Special Forces, arrested and sent to jail until Putin decided what to do with them. This is more a story about Putin’s Russia and his prisons as experienced by the Greenpeace people who found themselves incarcerated within them. I’m not sure how many of the rough edges had been burnished off - the Russian prisoners all seem like right-on dudes, intent on ensuring the foreigners were treated well during their stay. The authorities are portrayed as blank, unsmiling, conniving puppets of Putin, the arch villain of the piece and the cause of all the problems as his company, Gazprom, drill and lay claim to oil in the Arctic. To be fair, there isn’t a great deal of sermonising from the Greenpeace side and no real hagiography of the participants. It’s clear they all have their own doubts, misgivings and anxieties over what they have done, and most emerge portrayed as rounded human beings as opposed to environmental fanatics. They just see the world slightly different form the majority, but no more than someone else, say Putin, views it from a different standpoint. They all have their causes to fight for. This was a good book, an interesting and informative read and a relief to find it relatively objective in its assessment of what went on, given that the author is a Greenpeace activist himself.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Davis

    An interesting background story about a group of 30 Greenpeace activists and their protest action at Russian arctic oil platform. Once apprehended by the Russian special forces and imprisoned in Murmansk jail they were accused of an act of piracy and threatened with 10-15 years prison terms. The activists questioned that claim by saying that the oil platform was permanently attached to the sea bed, and therefore the piracy could not be applied to their action. Later, the authorities changed thei An interesting background story about a group of 30 Greenpeace activists and their protest action at Russian arctic oil platform. Once apprehended by the Russian special forces and imprisoned in Murmansk jail they were accused of an act of piracy and threatened with 10-15 years prison terms. The activists questioned that claim by saying that the oil platform was permanently attached to the sea bed, and therefore the piracy could not be applied to their action. Later, the authorities changed their classification to hooliganism, with potential 5 to 10 prison term. All the time they were trying to divide the activists to establish some leaders and be able to treat them more severely. The public campaign in the West and Russians' eagerness to be presented in best light at upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics forced them to grant bail to the activists and then apply a general amnesty act to expel them from Russia. The whole episode shows how little prepared the activists were to deal with oppressive authoritarian regime.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    Global warming, the disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic and the, until lately, high price of oil/gas has led many to push for the development/exploration of oil/gas fields in the heretofore pristine waters of the Arctic. The book describes the aftermath of a Greenpeace mission to protest this exploration. Their target, a Gazprom rig in international waters, their goal, to hang banners, disrupt drilling and draw attention to their cause. They overlooked, however, the crucial role played by oil Global warming, the disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic and the, until lately, high price of oil/gas has led many to push for the development/exploration of oil/gas fields in the heretofore pristine waters of the Arctic. The book describes the aftermath of a Greenpeace mission to protest this exploration. Their target, a Gazprom rig in international waters, their goal, to hang banners, disrupt drilling and draw attention to their cause. They overlooked, however, the crucial role played by oil/gas revenue in propping up the corrupt Russian regime of Vladimir Putin. The reaction from the "vlasti" was severe and fast. Scooped up special forces and whisked into a detention center in Murmansk. The activists, from several nations, were given an inside view of how the prison system of Russia operates. Freed during the pre-Sochi wave of amnesties, the 30 were sent out of Russia, back to their homes. Many still continue to actively protest.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    The subject matter is exciting and the people involved are heroic, so the writing of this is a great disappointment. It's descriptions of Russia would not be out of place in Cold War-era American propaganda. Although the author makes some vague attempt to treat the women subjects as equal to the men, the way he writes of them is far less compelling and they seem like adjunct characters in the story. Given the subject matter, this should have been a far better book. Certainly a less boring one. The subject matter is exciting and the people involved are heroic, so the writing of this is a great disappointment. It's descriptions of Russia would not be out of place in Cold War-era American propaganda. Although the author makes some vague attempt to treat the women subjects as equal to the men, the way he writes of them is far less compelling and they seem like adjunct characters in the story. Given the subject matter, this should have been a far better book. Certainly a less boring one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Greenpeace isn't exactly my favorite organization in the world but they definitely do some good things. The descriptions of living in Russian prisons alone make this worth reading. It's also important for environmentalists to understand how much more pressure they'll be facing as business interests get more and more desperate to keep their profits growing now that most of the low hanging fruit is gone. Greenpeace isn't exactly my favorite organization in the world but they definitely do some good things. The descriptions of living in Russian prisons alone make this worth reading. It's also important for environmentalists to understand how much more pressure they'll be facing as business interests get more and more desperate to keep their profits growing now that most of the low hanging fruit is gone.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra

    idea interessante, la storia è una che merita di essere letta. ma l'autore eccede nel voler umanizzare gli attivisti e le loro vicende personali, e l effetto "Maria de Filippi" è dietro l' angolo. forse una narrazione che raccontasse di più della geopolitica sottostante e meno dei drammi esistenziali dell'equipaggio mi avrebbe convinto maggiormente idea interessante, la storia è una che merita di essere letta. ma l'autore eccede nel voler umanizzare gli attivisti e le loro vicende personali, e l effetto "Maria de Filippi" è dietro l' angolo. forse una narrazione che raccontasse di più della geopolitica sottostante e meno dei drammi esistenziali dell'equipaggio mi avrebbe convinto maggiormente

  25. 5 out of 5

    bibliotekker Holman

    An engaging narrative written as an "as it happened" chronology. A thoughtful read for reflecting on the efficacy of protest environmentalism at the nexus of a growing global political order that just doesn't care. An engaging narrative written as an "as it happened" chronology. A thoughtful read for reflecting on the efficacy of protest environmentalism at the nexus of a growing global political order that just doesn't care.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Gardner

    A thrilling and scary book, made even more terrifying because it is all true. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Imogen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matteo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nael Aure

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