Don’t Trust Don’t Fear Don’t Beg

The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30

A gripping work of narrative nonfiction about the thirty Greenpeace activists thrown into Russia’s vicious prison system—and the fight to get them out

“The most important prison motto is hope for the better, but every moment, literally every moment, be prepared for the worst. Don’t hope, don’t fear, don’t beg.” —Roman Dolgov, one of the Arctic 30

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—who spearheaded 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.


“The Arctic is in grave danger. This terrific book illuminates, with thriller-like pace and crackling humor, the story of thirty people who risked their freedom for its protection. Anyone who admires direct action, wants to know what to do about the peril we are all in, or who cares about the future of their children should read it now.”
—Emma Thompson
“The story you are about to read is extraordinary. It is one of fear, hope, despair and humanity. But we still don’t know how it ends. That is up to all of us. Including you. Please encourage your friends to help bring a hopeful conclusion to this moving story.”
—Paul McCartney
“A gripping story of tremendous courage that reads like a thriller. By putting their bodies on the line to stop the drilling, the Arctic 30 became global symbols for a resurgent climate movement, one willing to do whatever it takes to close down new fossil fuel frontiers. This is real heroism, and Stewart’s excellent account will surely inspire many others to join the fight for a humane and livable planet.”
—Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine
“A riveting adventure story, with real-life heroes and planet-sized stakes.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“A fascinating tale of bravery in the face of totalitarian cruelty. A true page-turner and an important book for our times.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story
“Reads with the heart-racing pace of a sensational action-adventure story. . . . Paints a vivid picture of the plight of each activist, thrusting readers directly into the action. This riveting account will excite and inspire and provides a thrilling read.”
Library Journal (starred review)

News and Reviews

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs writes that the book's "colorful dialogue, moral dilemmas, and scenes of physical danger" would make it a great movie


Author Ben Stewart speaks with Mark Karlin at Truthout about climate change and his new book.

Democracy Now!

The Democracy Now! team interviews Ben Stewart and Captain Peter Willcox of the Arctic 30 who risked it all to stop oil drilling in the Arctic.


Goodreads Reviews