About Seized
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Freighter Captain
The Sea Bitch
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About the Author
Works in Progress
Max's Writings

F. Max Hardberger is a professionally trained writer with an extraordinary background.

After he earned a B.A. degree in English from the University of New Orleans, Max attended the world-renowned post-graduate Program in Creative Writing (known informally as the “Writers’ Workshop”) at the University of Iowa. In 1972 he received a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Poetry and has since used his formal training to write on topics drawing inspiration from his incredibly varied life experiences.

At various times in his life, Max has worked as a ship captain, newspaper reporter, English teacher, crop duster, private investigator, maritime lawyer, flight instructor, ship surveyor, commercial aircraft pilot, sailing instructor, vessel repossession specialist, filmmaker, oilfield mud engineer and ship breaker. His adventures have taken him throughout the world—from lawless ports in the Caribbean and the war-torn jungles of Central America to the once-forbidden city of Vladivostok—where he crossed paths with a veritable rogue’s gallery of characters, including Haitian rebels, modern-day Caribbean pirates, and Russian mobsters.

Max drew upon his maritime experiences when writing his first book, Deadweight: Owning the Ocean Freighter (1994), a textbook on ship ownership that Fairplay Magazine (Lloyd’s of London Press) called “required reading” and “truth at last.” He followed Deadweight with his first novel, Freighter Captain (1998), a semi-autobiographical account of his adventures as a ship captain in the Caribbean.

Max's most recent work, SEIZED: A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters, is a memoir about his adventures in repossessing ships in lawless ports. The U.S. hardcover edition of the book was published by the  Broadway Books imprint of Random House on April 6, 2010 and a U.K. and Commonwealth paperback edition was released by Nicholas Brealey Publishing on June 24, 2010.  A German-language hardcover edition was also published by MVG Verlag.

He is near completion of his novel, The Sea Bitch, about a young man who leaves the turmoil of the Sixties to sail the Caribbean in a small, unseaworthy boat. Another current project is The Sirio, a mystery/adventure novel set in the criminal underworld of the shipping business. Click here to learn more about Max's works in progress

As a student of military nonfiction, particularly of World War II, Max was asked to write the introduction to the English-language edition of Vassili Zaitsev's Notes of a Sniper (on which the movie Enemy at the Gates was based). Max has also written hundreds of articles for various maritime publications, including WorkBoat Magazine, National Fisherman, Marine Money, Maritime Reporter, and The Maritime Security Handbook. He has written several screenplays, including The Kimbrel-West Clan, the true story of the nation’s most successful outlaw gang, Red Clay, a hard-boiled detective movie set in rural Mississippi, and The Ice Man’s Daughter, a caper-and-chase actioner.

As a devotee of the hardboiled school of fiction, Max's writing style offers gritty realism. Like his life, many of Max's books and screenplays are set in the seedy world of international business. His protagonists are often like himself, savvy, sardonic, and capable of violent action. And his villains are drawn from the panoply of miscreants he's met as a ship captain and maritime lawyer. His stories are fact-based, real-world adventures from the underbelly of world commerce, and they are the stuff of legend. 


Max Hardberger in 2008

Max Hardberger in 1975

Max Hardberger in 1969

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