Into the Raging Sea
“A Perfect Storm for a new generation, Rachel Slade's Into the Raging Sea is a masterful page-turning account of the El Faro's sinking.”—Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook“The one account I’ve read that solves the riddle of El Faro convincingly and thoroughly. Superbly written, Into the Raging Sea deserves a place on the bookshelf of modern maritime classics. Even those who have followed El Faro closely will find major surprises here.”—Robert Frump, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death, and Survival in the Merchant MarineOn October 1, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin barreled into the Bermuda Triangle and swallowed the container ship El Faro whole, resulting in the worst American shipping disaster in thirty-five years. No one could fathom how a vessel equipped with satellite communications, a sophisticated navigation system, and cutting-edge weather forecasting could suddenly vanish—until now.Relying on hundreds of exclusive interviews with family members and maritime experts, as well as the words of the crew members themselves—whose conversations were captured by the ship’s data recorder—journalist Rachel Slade unravels the mystery of the sinking of El Faro. As she recounts the final twenty-four hours onboard, Slade vividly depicts the officers’ anguish and fear as they struggled to carry out Captain Michael Davidson’s increasingly bizarre commands, which, they knew, would steer them straight into the eye of the storm. Taking a hard look at America's aging merchant marine fleet, Slade also reveals the truth about modern shipping—a cut-throat industry plagued by razor-thin profits and ever more violent hurricanes fueled by global warming.A richly reported account of a singular tragedy, Into the Raging Sea takes us into the heart of an age-old American industry, casting new light on the hardworking men and women who paid the ultimate price in the name of profit.

Into the Raging Sea Details

TitleInto the Raging Sea
Author
ReleaseMay 1st, 2018
PublisherEcco
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Contemporary, Adult, Audiobook, Adventure, Survival, North American Hi..., American History, Travel

Into the Raging Sea Review

  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    “Over the radio, [Captain Michael] Davidson told his crew to throw their rafts in the water and get off the ship. But how could they even walk out onto the deck in those winds, let alone deploy a life raft? Everything – people, rafts, life suits – would be whipped away by [Hurricane] Joaquin and into the waves, or thrown back against the ship’s steel hull to be crushed. The air was solid with salt and water. You couldn’t breathe out there. The crew probably crowded around the door leading to the “Over the radio, [Captain Michael] Davidson told his crew to throw their rafts in the water and get off the ship. But how could they even walk out onto the deck in those winds, let alone deploy a life raft? Everything – people, rafts, life suits – would be whipped away by [Hurricane] Joaquin and into the waves, or thrown back against the ship’s steel hull to be crushed. The air was solid with salt and water. You couldn’t breathe out there. The crew probably crowded around the door leading to the second deck watching in horror the hellish world beyond through a porthole. Their survival instincts kept them there, huddled together… El Faro rolled farther into the wind, exhausted by the fight, until her deck edge dipped into the brine. Superheated Caribbean waters beckoned her in. The ship’s floors turned to the sky and became walls, her walls became ceilings. She was going gently into the eternal night of the deep ocean…”- Rachel Slade, Into the Raging SeaFederal law requires me to mention The Perfect Storm whenever discussing a nonfiction book on a deadly disaster. So, being a law-abiding citizen, that’s where I’ll start. In Sebastian Junger’s classic account of the sinking of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail, he writes of the Falcon, a ship lost off the Georges Bank in 1896. The ship had lost its cable, its rudder, and it was leaking. Knowing she was condemned, a seaman aboard the Falcon tried to get off a final message, tucked into a corked bottle. As Junger narrates: One of the Falcon’s crew must have wedged himself against a bunk in the fo’c’sle and written furiously beneath the heaving light of a storm lantern. This was the end, and everyone on the boat would have known it. How do men act on a sinking ship? Do they hold each other? Do they pass around the whisky? Do they cry? This man wrote; he put down on a scrap of paper the last moments of twenty men in this world. Then he corked the bottle and threw it overboard. There’s not a chance in hell, he must have thought. And then he went below again. He breathed in deep. He tried to calm himself. He readied himself for the first shock of sea…I’ve always loved this passage, because it really captures the haunting nature of a disaster on the ocean, so far from help you might as well be in outer space. For hundreds of years, to be lost on high seas meant to be lost to the world. It meant dying without a trace. It meant dying without the people who loved you ever being certain that you were gone. Ships disappeared into the vastness, swallowed whole. Men left home and never returned. There’s a reason that the platforms atop New England houses were called widow’s walks. A plane can crash without survivors, but typically there is wreckage, a final resting place. For much of human history, that was not true when it came to the vessels plying the earth’s waters. On October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro sank in the Bahamas. None of the crew of thirty-three men and women survived. In days past, this would have been another of countless maritime mysteries. But this sinking had a twist. The El Faro had a voyage data recorder (VDR) installed on her bridge. Like the cockpit voice recorder in a doomed airliner, the VDR captured conversations that took place in the most important part of a ship. Unlike most CVRs, however, El Faro’s VDR didn’t just capture the final thirty minutes of the disaster; it captured twenty-six hours of conversation over the course of El Faro’s final voyage. These conversations were painstakingly transcribed and made available to the public. In very real terms, then, we know more about the command decisions that led to El Faro’s sinking than we know about the Titanic, which left 705 eyewitnesses to tell the tale (including the helmsman on the bridge when the she hit ice; the lookout who spotted the berg; and the second, third, fourth, and fifth officers of the deck). And it’s important to know about those command decisions, because the El Faro sinking is a bit unimaginable. How, in this day and age, with GPS in our pockets, can a ship like the El Faro sail directly into the eyewall of a Category 3 hurricane? Rachel Slade answers that question as best as possible, in her sometimes thrilling, sometimes frustrating account of the El Faro. Slade grabs your attention immediately, in the first chapter, which consists almost solely of a transcription of Captain Michael Davidson’s excruciating call to shore, to speak with his company’s (TOTE Maritime) designated representative. Instead of getting right through to this so-called “Qualified Individual,” Davidson is left repeating information to a call center operator, as though he has just phoned in to contest a credit card charge. All this while his ship was dying beneath his feet. Right after this heart-stopping beginning (and really, this story is so dramatic, it does not need a middleman; I suggest reading the transcripts), Slade cuts away, taking us to Jacksonville, Florida, before the El Faro sets sail. This is a narrative style that she employs throughout Into the Raging Sea. She will have a chapter on the El Faro, counting down the hours, the minutes, the seconds, as a monster storm erupts, and the ship sails right at it; then, just as the tension is starting to tighten, she will interrupt the main flow of the story for a cutaway chapter on various topics, such as the design of the El Faro, the corporate structure of TOTE Maritime, a primer on the Jones Act, or a biographical sketch of Captain Davidson. Eventually, right before the El Faro sinks, she leaves the ship entirely to cover the aftermath of the sinking, including the efforts to find the ship in water 15,000 feet deep. Only near the very end does Slade put us back on the bridge to recount the last act. I knew exactly what Slade was trying to do with this fractured chronology, and frankly, I think it worked pretty well. The shipboard scenes are so powerful, so potent, often told in the participants’ actual, recorded words, that it becomes too much to read all at once. The chapters away from the ship actually give you time to breathe, while also allowing Slade to give the sinking a fuller context. It is also an exercise in dramatic manipulation that any creative writing instructor would endorse. Unfortunately, the cutaway chapters are often a mixed-bag. At times, Slade seems to be trying to prove how much research she did, and how many people she talked to. There is a lack of focus, of organization, that makes things unnecessarily convoluted. Instead of tackling a subject in a coherent manner, she tends towards an oblique approach. When discussing globalization, for instance, she first forces the reader to endure her observations about doomsday preppers. What’s the connection? I don’t know or care. My mind sort of wandered off, along with the storyline. Another bothersome point: Slade tells us things she has no way of knowing. We have the voices of the crew, but that is audio alone. Nevertheless, Slade writes with certainty about Danielle Randolph’s bouncing ponytail, or another crewmembers “sullen” look, or how a third crew member ran his hands through his hair. How is she deriving this? I am okay with a bit of artistic license extrapolated from the audio. But if that’s the case, she should explain her method. There are no notes here, and Slade never divulges her process. While I’m complaining, I feel compelled to mention that I found over half a dozen grammatical mistakes. (Ever visit the Sunshine Sate? I hear it’s beautiful!). This makes me furious. If publishing is dying, it’s because its shot itself in the foot. Seriously, Harper Collins, you charge $27.99 for this, and no one, literally no one, proofed it? I’ll do it for free, if you send me the manuscript. (Also, I got annoyed that Coast Guard wasn’t treated as a proper noun. I’m not entirely sure I’m right, but it looked really weird un-capitalized). That said, the good far outweighs the bad. Slade has a real knack for taking concepts and explaining them in a coherent manner for laypeople. For example, her interview with shipbuilder John Glanfield does a fine job of illustrating the concept of downflooding angle, and the role that played in El Faro’s demise. Though it is not always perfectly organized, she covers a lot of ground, from climate change to deep-sea recovery to the Coast Guard-NTSB hearings. I appreciated the all-angles approach. This book didn’t quite have the extra special literary quality that I found in The Perfect Storm or in Robert Frump’s Until the Sea Shall Free Them (about the eerily similar Marine Electric sinking). In other words, this never gave me the chills. Still, Slade’s writing can be quite propulsive, especially a top-notch sequence on the Coast Guard’s Rescue Swimmers. She is also refreshingly blunt in her assessments. It is perhaps not surprising that she takes TOTE Maritime to task for its penny pinching and corner cutting. After all, the corporation, which exists inside another corporation, which was swallowed by a different corporation, and digested by a separate corporation, worked very hard to squeeze every last mile out of El Faro, all while refusing to update her safety features. (El Faro had open lifeboats. Like on the Titanic. Look at the pictures – they are the same! Remember the movie Captain Phillips? Those watertight, unsinkable capsules? Yeah, those might have helped). She is very hard on Captain Davidson, who misread his weather forecasts (which relied on extremely old data), ignored his own senses, and disregarded the crew who tried to tell him they were heading straight for Joaquin’s eyewall. It is difficult to write ill of the dead, especially so near in time. I think Slade did a good job in being evenhanded. Disasters are typically the sum of many mistakes, some large, others small; some long term, others instantaneous. By taking such a sweeping look at the El Faro sinking, Slade demonstrates there was no single cause. It was TOTE’s fault, for their aging, leaky, steam-propelled ship, which had Titanic’s lifeboats. It was the fault of a heating earth, which created an unpredictable and violent super-storm. It was the fault of Captain Davidson, whose every command was based on a faulty premise. But you don’t read a story like this just to point fingers and lay blame. You read it because there are humans involved, fighting like hell for their lives. That’s what strikes me the most about the loss of El Faro, the thing I can’t get out of my mind. It’s an image of Captain Davidson on that hopelessly slanting deck, knowing he’d screwed up, knowing that he’d made the mistake that would be his epitaph, knowing he was likely about to die. There he is, amid the howling winds and the crashing waves and the unending darkness, with his life measurable in minutes, telling one of his men that he would not leave him.
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  • Brenda Ayala
    January 1, 1970
    This is very expertly researched and accounts for every bit of the varying events that caused the sinking of the El Faro.In short, the company TOTE fucked over their crew by having out of date software and hardware. Captain Davidson was more focused on his own career than getting safely to Puerto Rico. Danielle and Schultz were worried about coming on too strong. In short, bad business practice and poor communication between the ranks doomed the ship from the get-go. The author did a great job o This is very expertly researched and accounts for every bit of the varying events that caused the sinking of the El Faro.In short, the company TOTE fucked over their crew by having out of date software and hardware. Captain Davidson was more focused on his own career than getting safely to Puerto Rico. Danielle and Schultz were worried about coming on too strong. In short, bad business practice and poor communication between the ranks doomed the ship from the get-go. The author did a great job of explaining the industry and then drawing that into the narrative. It’s an easy book to read, and I appreciate the author’s effort to include as much as possible.
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  • David V.
    January 1, 1970
    Received as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. Started 4-9-18. Finished 4-12-18. Investigative journalism at its best. Will keep you involved from beginning to end like a good fiction book but it's all true. The sinking of this cargo ship and the deaths of its crew could have been avoided but for the ignorance, apathy, greed, and emotional instability of the parties involved. This book should be used as a textbook in all maritime academies in the world. It would also help to have it be r Received as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. Started 4-9-18. Finished 4-12-18. Investigative journalism at its best. Will keep you involved from beginning to end like a good fiction book but it's all true. The sinking of this cargo ship and the deaths of its crew could have been avoided but for the ignorance, apathy, greed, and emotional instability of the parties involved. This book should be used as a textbook in all maritime academies in the world. It would also help to have it be read by every CEO in the world, but of course that will never happen. Being in a position of power doesn't mean you know everything that you need to know. Caused me to swear out loud at the guilty parties described at the end of this story--a visceral reaction.
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  • Zachary
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating account of the sinking of El Faro, a 700+ ft shipping vessel in 2015. The book delves into modern shipping, the history of ship building, and the pressures of capitalism without ever neglecting the human stories. The recovery of the ship's audio recordings takes readers into the bridge on the last day before the sinking. This is a good book.
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  • Tonstant Weader
    January 1, 1970
    Shipping is dangerous work and ships run aground, capsize, founder, or sink nearly every day. Some of these tragedies, though, capture the imagination and inspire writers to explore the reasons for their loss and to find some deeper meaning. The sinking of El Faro in Hurrican Joaquin on October 1, 2015, is just such a storm and has already inspired at least three books so far. Rachel Slade’s Into the Raging Sea seeks to do more than tell the story of the loss of El Faro and its thirty-three crew Shipping is dangerous work and ships run aground, capsize, founder, or sink nearly every day. Some of these tragedies, though, capture the imagination and inspire writers to explore the reasons for their loss and to find some deeper meaning. The sinking of El Faro in Hurrican Joaquin on October 1, 2015, is just such a storm and has already inspired at least three books so far. Rachel Slade’s Into the Raging Sea seeks to do more than tell the story of the loss of El Faro and its thirty-three crew members, she seeks to place it in the context of shifts in global trade, economic trends, and global warming. This makes for an absorbing and important narrative.Slade looks at several factors that led to the disaster. Most obviously, global climate change has warmed the ocean, creating more violent storms and far more damaging hurricanes. Climate-change deniers in Congress have underfunded the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because they are too afraid of climate science to fund good weather science. It’s very important for climate-change deniers that no one understands weather and climate are not the same, because then they could not bring snowballs into the House of Representatives to expose their ignorance.She also looks at the leadership of El Faro, the captain, engineers, and officers. Certainly, it seems clear that Captain Davidson made several errors in judgment. He was unaware that his preferred weather update, a graphical representation of the weather, was several hours behind the National Weather Service whose update was textual and required being plotted by hand on their charts. He was responding to weather reports nine hours out of date and like many people, where there was a conflict in reports, he went with the report he liked best. He was also unreceptive to his subordinates advancing their concerns and concerned more about pleasing the on-shore executives than anyone else. He had recently been overlooked for a promotion and was resentful.She considers the design of El Faro which is the most fascinating part in that the ship was retrofitted a few times to adapt to changing shipping trends without thinking carefully enough about how those changes affect the ship’s balance and seaworthiness. They were allowed again and again to take on more cargo, allowing the ship to rest lower and lower in the water without noticing that the vents on the side allow water in and are much lower. If you have a three-inch glass and it’s got a vent at two inches, the water does not wait to reach three inches before beginning to fill the glass.Then she looks at management at TOTE, the company who owned El Faro. A more feckless bunch would be hard to find. It’s like they all watched “Wall Street” and though Gecko was the hero, not the villain. They fire the most experienced to replace them with cheaper and younger workers. They have someone unqualified to be an engineer on a ship overseeing all the ships. Their lead contact for ships at sea travels without leaving someone in charge. Sadly, because maritime law is heavily biased toward shipowners, they can cast all the blame on the captain.There’s more, nonexistent inspections or next-to-worthless inspections. Like Wall Street, most maritime regulation and inspection is carried out by an organization created, funded, and in service to the shipowners. As in other industries, global trade patterns, outsourcing, and trends in labor have weakened the power of labor to advocate for safety. So many factors come together and you begin to wonder why there have not been more tragedies.Rachel Slade does a great job of writing a compelling narrative that grabs your interest immediately. She is good at short character sketches, but her real strength is explaining the many unseen factors that led to disaster. In capturing the many historical and global trends that influenced decisions on the ship’s design, redesign, management, and maintenance, she is masterful.I think she sometimes reaches unsupported conclusions when describing people’s character, particularly the women who are involved. For example, the crewing manager comes in for some serious criticism and the kind of gendered gossip that women in leadership often attract. However, her most significant act was ensuring Captain Davidson didn’t get promoted to the new ships. Considering his performance on El Faro, that sounds like a good decision to me. The other woman also came in for some of the same sort of commentary from men who worked with her, that she was scattered and forgetful and of course, rumored to have gotten her job because she filed a sexual harassment claim. But, of the officers on the bridge, she seemed to be more aware than anyone they were in danger and did more than anyone to point it out to the captain. If he had been willing to listen to her and if other officers had backed her up better, they would have changed course. Perhaps because Slade is also a woman, she didn’t want to seem partial, so she accepted the criticisms of these women even though they fit into the pattern of criticism women who seek jobs in men’s space always get. I think she should have taken more care to put those criticisms in the voice of the people who gave them, rather than in the author’s voice. That brings me to my second criticism. She tells us what people are thinking. Well, we know what they are doing and saying, but we can’t know their thoughts and motivations.Lastly, I wish she had provided endnotes or footnotes. She lists her main sources, but she made some assertions that I would like to check, for example, that Florida is the most racist state. It sure could be and I assume she made that assertion based on the number of lynchings in Florida, but I don’t know because it is not sourced. There are other state’s that can make that claim based on other rationales. For example, my own state of Oregon prohibited Black people from owning land or a business or signing a contract in the state. Iowa and Indiana required black people to post a bond that would equal $15,000 in today’s dollars just to enter the state.These are minor complaints when stacked against the scope of her research and the quality of her analysis. This is a fascinating story about a tragedy that could have been avoided and identitifies problems that probably guarantee it will happen again.I received an ARC of Into the Raging Sea from the publisher through a Shelf Awareness drawing.Into the Raging Sea at Harper CollinsRachel Slade interview at 98.9 WCLZ★★★★https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...
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  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    Clusterfuck. Oh my. This book will make you angry. The anger will increase as you move along, when you get to the details of the hearings that took place in the aftermath of the disaster you will be outraged. I wanted to throw the book through a window. The book, however, for me, was only so so. It’s likely the issue is just my ability to take a book like this. It has to be investigatory. It can’t be a story only. The author provides great detail. I just could not enjoy reading this. I grew up i Clusterfuck. Oh my. This book will make you angry. The anger will increase as you move along, when you get to the details of the hearings that took place in the aftermath of the disaster you will be outraged. I wanted to throw the book through a window. The book, however, for me, was only so so. It’s likely the issue is just my ability to take a book like this. It has to be investigatory. It can’t be a story only. The author provides great detail. I just could not enjoy reading this. I grew up in coastal New England, I grew up with men like those on the ship, I have friends who worked in the Merchant Marine, my children have friends who have gone to the merchant academies in the last few years. This hits home. The Captain, Davidson, an experienced mariner, is certainly deserving of much of the blame. His unwillingness to listen to his subordinates, even though he was clearly operating under corporate pressures, was the major factor that led to his mistakesAnother factor that needs to be examined is the break in the shipping industry ( and probably many others) between those that embrace all the technological advances and those that are uncomfortable with them, and thus, use them only as much as absolutely necessary and never comfortably. Captain Davidson was on a ship that did not have updated weather technology. He used a forecast from a company that provided visual plot points. He could have, should have used a plotting system, it would have been more correct Nd would also have been more current. The weather detail he received was normally old, in this case due to error, was more behind than normal, and, to top it off, the storm was so erratic that even the National Hurricane Center struggled to forecast it. But the villain, if there is a villain, ( and there is in case your wondering ) is the shipping company TOTE enterprises. Using forty year old ships that were due to be replaced for the Jacksonville to Puerto Rico run the El Faro and it’s sister ship provided lifeblood to the Puerto Rican economy. The management structure of the company was uninvolved, disassociated from the daily operation of the ships. The company, as most large conglomerates these days focused on one thing, money. Nothing else. Safety, security, employees, this all became not just secondary but much lower than that. There is too much to tell for a review. People should have gone to jail and they are not all at the bottom of the ocean. An indictment of American shipping, one that could inevitably be republished with a detailed look at almost any other industry as well.
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  • Patrick SG
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent and harrowing account of the loss of a ship with 33 people aboard during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. For those who wondered how a ship could have deliberately moved into the path of a tropical system like this the book provides the answer.Unlike the classic "The Perfect Storm," which this book might be compared to, the author of this book has access to a valuable resource - more than 25 hours of recordings made on the bridge of the ships officers conversations. Much like an airliner' An excellent and harrowing account of the loss of a ship with 33 people aboard during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. For those who wondered how a ship could have deliberately moved into the path of a tropical system like this the book provides the answer.Unlike the classic "The Perfect Storm," which this book might be compared to, the author of this book has access to a valuable resource - more than 25 hours of recordings made on the bridge of the ships officers conversations. Much like an airliner's black box, the device recorded conversations of those steaming into harms way, and it makes for harrowing reading. Particularly moving are the last minutes of the ship's life as the captain urges the frozen-in-fear helmsman to move toward him and potential safety.The book is divided in two parts. The first alternates the events aboard leading up to the ship's contact with the storm with chapters that paint a picture of key crew members and a history of merchant shipping in the U.S. and the importance of seaborne commerce that escapes most people. The second half details the search for the ship, it's black box, and the hearings to determine the cause. The book shows how a series of events, over years, and on the part of many parties - the government, the shipping company and the captain and crew - contributed to this tragedy.The only shortcoming of this book - in its electronic format - is the lack of a map that would be helpful in tracking the course of the ship and the storm. The print version provides this in endpapers, but it's lacking in the ebook version.
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  • Lianne
    January 1, 1970
    A compelling true story of the sinking of the container ship, El Faro, during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 with all 33 hands on board. We are able to glean much of what happened, not only from the voice recorder which was recovered at great cost and time on the bottom of the ocean, but from communications from the ship leading up to the sinking and an investigation led by the US Coast Guard and NTSB. It is the story of corporate greed by a shipping company who wanted their product loaded an A compelling true story of the sinking of the container ship, El Faro, during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 with all 33 hands on board. We are able to glean much of what happened, not only from the voice recorder which was recovered at great cost and time on the bottom of the ocean, but from communications from the ship leading up to the sinking and an investigation led by the US Coast Guard and NTSB. It is the story of corporate greed by a shipping company who wanted their product loaded and shipped at any cost with outdated and flawed communication and safety regulations. Much of the blame was also placed on the captain who was worried about his job and wouldn't take advice from his bridge crew. Truly a sad story.
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  • Freeman Fridie
    January 1, 1970
    So much more than a "lost at sea tale". Takes you into a world most of us know nothing about. Book of the year for me so far. Read it.
  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    This account of a shipwreck reads like a movie, and is also an infuriating indictment of corporate greed, regulatory corner-cutting, and male hubris.
  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    A very detailed account of the sinking of the El Faro. The author did a great job of not only documenting the tragedy, but also by providing much of the actual dialog of the crew in their last hours. She was able to do this because searchers were able to recover the "black box" which recorded these conversations. My only compliant, and a minor one , is the lack of photos. There are none in this book. Photos of the ship and crew would have been nice. I'm sure the families could have provided some A very detailed account of the sinking of the El Faro. The author did a great job of not only documenting the tragedy, but also by providing much of the actual dialog of the crew in their last hours. She was able to do this because searchers were able to recover the "black box" which recorded these conversations. My only compliant, and a minor one , is the lack of photos. There are none in this book. Photos of the ship and crew would have been nice. I'm sure the families could have provided some, and there were photos of the ship from its sailing days before the hurricane. I googled "Danielle Randolph El Faro ". She was the second mate on board. Many acticles and photos came up with that search. I should have done this before reading the book, it's nice to have a mental image of who you're reading about.I would highly recommend this book to others.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    Into the Raging Sea, by Rachel Slade is a book with visceral impact. You know how the story ends, but through her narrative you gain insight into the lives of the crew of the El Faro, an understanding of the mechanics of the disaster, and why hubris should be included with sloth among the seven deadly sins. The construction of this book brings you through the event, braiding the timelines of the various elements involved seamlessly, allowing the reader an appreciation of the sinking of the El Fa Into the Raging Sea, by Rachel Slade is a book with visceral impact. You know how the story ends, but through her narrative you gain insight into the lives of the crew of the El Faro, an understanding of the mechanics of the disaster, and why hubris should be included with sloth among the seven deadly sins. The construction of this book brings you through the event, braiding the timelines of the various elements involved seamlessly, allowing the reader an appreciation of the sinking of the El Faro that could not be gained even with a careful reading of the entire minutes of the National Transportation Safety Bureau investigation and of the United States Coast Guard inquiry. This is accomplished by carefully incorporating the relevant information from the NTSB and USCG with in depth investigative work.Ms. Slade’s research ranges from hours long interviews with the families of crew members, former crew members, former shipmates of the crew, and a Naval Architect involved with the original construction of the vessel. She also has taken a transoceanic voyage on a merchant vessel and trips with a harbor pilot on the St. Johns River to gain perspective on the working dynamic in that environment. Throughout the book there is a real sense of the author’s desire to “Get it right.” As a mariner with 40-plus years of experience in this industry, and as someone close to this incident, I think she does.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Combine a corporate that puts profits ahead of safety (I know, dog bites man), a ship captain who is filled with hubris and fear of losing his job, a category 4 hurricaine and you get a real-life perfect storm that sinks the El Faro and all 33 hands in October 2015. Slade does a masterful job of creating a fast moving and tragic story based on last 26 hours of conversation recorded on El Faro. Coast Guard rescuers are the amazing heroes. One chapter goes into the detail of a rescue that really g Combine a corporate that puts profits ahead of safety (I know, dog bites man), a ship captain who is filled with hubris and fear of losing his job, a category 4 hurricaine and you get a real-life perfect storm that sinks the El Faro and all 33 hands in October 2015. Slade does a masterful job of creating a fast moving and tragic story based on last 26 hours of conversation recorded on El Faro. Coast Guard rescuers are the amazing heroes. One chapter goes into the detail of a rescue that really gets the heart pumping. The recorded conversations make these 33 sailors real people - hard to read their last words.While blame certainly falls on the ship’s owner TOTE and the captain, further blame falls on a US government that starves agencies of money while asking those same agencies to do more and more. Example is the Coast Guard: now part of Homeland Security and responsible for chasing terrorists and drugs. What about rescue? Another example is the NOAA that can no longer study climate change so understanding hurricaines, so critical to mariners, is not possible. A lot of blame also falls on consumers who don’t really appreciate how goods to get into their hands.Great book!
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  • Allen Adams
    January 1, 1970
    http://www.themaineedge.com/adventure...So much of our country’s history is bound up in the sea. Our relationship to the ocean has defined us in many ways over the years. Even now, our waterways play vital roles in the way our nation operates. But all that time at sea comes with risk; it’s risk that we often forget or dismiss, but it never goes away.And sometimes, it makes its presence known.On Oct. 1, 2015, the merchant ship El Faro ran into Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas and sank, killing a http://www.themaineedge.com/adventure...So much of our country’s history is bound up in the sea. Our relationship to the ocean has defined us in many ways over the years. Even now, our waterways play vital roles in the way our nation operates. But all that time at sea comes with risk; it’s risk that we often forget or dismiss, but it never goes away.And sometimes, it makes its presence known.On Oct. 1, 2015, the merchant ship El Faro ran into Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas and sank, killing all 33 of the crew members and leading to months of questions about how something so tragic could have happened … and who should be held responsible.Author Rachel Slade offers a comprehensive and compelling look at the disaster with her new book “Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro.” Over the course of nearly 400 pages, Slade brings together hours of research and hundreds of interviews – along with transcripts of voice recordings of El Faro’s final hours – to dive deep beneath the surface of this tragedy, introducing us to many of the people involved and offering a meticulous and thoughtful analysis of it all.The sinking of the El Faro was the worst shipping disaster in 35 years. It was the sort of accident that most believed – thanks to advances in technology – simply couldn’t happen anymore. And yet it did, thanks to a confluence of circumstances that no one could have possibly predicted.An old ship haphazardly modified to operate in a new way. A patchwork crew featuring mariners of different degrees of experience and interpersonal familiarity. A storm whose behavior inspired disparate predictions from different meteorological models. All of it coming together in such a way as to doom the ship and all aboard.The book’s focus is on the final day aboard the ship, the 24 hours that led to the demise of so many. But interspersed throughout is a breakdown of just how we got to the place where such a thing could happen, hundreds of interviews with maritime experts all striving to help answer the same question – how did this happen?“Into the Raging Sea” is a powerful reading experience. What Slade has done is bring the people aboard El Faro – the people whose lives are coming to a watery end – to heartbreakingly vivid life. Thanks to the voice recordings, she is able to place us on the bridge of that ship. She shares with us the creeping, growing fear, a feeling that starts as simple unease and steadily evolves into something much darker and terrifying. Over the course of mere hours, these people are forced to come to terms with an unavoidable end.And we are there.There’s also a wealth of maritime history sprinkled throughout the book as we learn more about the Merchant Marine and the harsh realities inherent to the business of shipping by sea. Whether it’s the surprising level of disrepair under which some companies allow their ships to operate or the potentially calamitous impact of the Jones Act or the rapidly-diminishing profit margins that drive modern shippers to make ethically questionable decisions, it’s all here. And all of it ties in neatly to the terrible tragedy of the El Faro.Narrative nonfiction is a tricky business; it’s not always easy to turn true stories into compelling ones. It’s even more difficult when your story is one whose climactic event is likely already known by the reader. Yet Slade pulls it off. “Into the Raging Sea” is well-researched and thoughtfully presented, for sure, but it’s also just as gripping as any fictional thriller you’re likely to find. She finds a way to make foreknowledge about El Faro into a feature, rather than a bug; her mastery of tension will leave your nerves twanging no matter what your level of familiarity.The nature of a story like this is that the full extent of the truth will likely never be truly known. There are elements to the sinking of El Faro that have been forever lost beneath the waves. And we can never know what fears and hopes reside in the depths of men’s hearts. It’s not possible to tell the whole story – but Rachel Slade has come about as close as anyone could.“Into the Raging Sea” is an exceptional work. It is a story that very much needed to be told; that it was told so eloquently and meticulously is a welcome bonus. The 33 lives lost are tragic and unnecessary; they deserved to have their voices heard. With this book, Rachel Slade gives them that chance.
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  • Bill Marsano
    January 1, 1970
    By Bill Marsano. Sixty-five-year-old Paul McHenry Washburn, Captain of the S.S. Stella Lykes, is on the bridge of the brief but superb “Looking for a Ship,” wherein he speaks the dangers of weather at sea. Licensed as a “Master of United States Steam or Motor Vessels of any gross tons upon oceans,” he says feelingly to author John McPhee “Every day, someone somewhere is getting it from weather . . . . They’re disappearing without a trace.” On Oct. 1, 2015 such was the fate of the El Faro, at 790 By Bill Marsano. Sixty-five-year-old Paul McHenry Washburn, Captain of the S.S. Stella Lykes, is on the bridge of the brief but superb “Looking for a Ship,” wherein he speaks the dangers of weather at sea. Licensed as a “Master of United States Steam or Motor Vessels of any gross tons upon oceans,” he says feelingly to author John McPhee “Every day, someone somewhere is getting it from weather . . . . They’re disappearing without a trace.” On Oct. 1, 2015 such was the fate of the El Faro, at 790-foot container ship bound from Jacksonville, Fla. to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Halfway there she was run deliberately into Hurricane Joaquin, and was overwhelmed and sunk with all 33 souls aboard. How could that happen to an all-American ship—American-owned, -crewed and -officered, loaded with modern communications and navigational aids? In this book author Rachel Slade tells us, little more than two years later, tell us what happened and why. El Faro was, to begin with, 40 years old long past her scrapping date; moreover she was undermanned and poorly maintained by profit-hungry, cost-cutting owners; and her master was unengaged, a “stateroom captain,” heedless of his officers’ advice and preoccupied with his failing career. And so El Faro went into the whirlwind and disappeared—but not exactly without a trace. The first, unrecognized at the time, was the tremendous thud recorded by Navy hydrophones when El Faro slammed into the seabed of the Bahamas. The second is the voice recording of all on El Faro’s bridge, preserved in the “black box” of her VDR, or Voyage Data Recorder, recovered a month after her sinking. Relying on the recording and her intensive interviews and research, Slade succeeds in weaving a deep and sensitive tapestry: the victims—terrified, resigned, brave to the end--become real human beings; the causes of the sinking, small and large, coalesce into the powerful force that sent El Faro to the bottom 15,000 feet down—deeper than the Titanic. I recommend you read both books—Slades and McPhees. You will not forget them.—Bill Marsano is a veteran writer and editor who from age 12 spent three summers on tramp freighters in the Caribbean as an illegal and marginally competent cabin boy.
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  • Becca Younk
    January 1, 1970
    Two of my biggest fears are being lost in space and lost at sea. Barring relocation to a moon colony, being lost in space will never happen to me. Thanks to reports about norovirus breakouts on cruise ships, I have zero desire to ever take a cruise, meaning being lost at sea will also never happen to me. Which leaves me free to indulge my obsession with reading about shipwrecks. I was riveted to this book. Because El Faro's black box was recovered, we have access to hours of conversation in the Two of my biggest fears are being lost in space and lost at sea. Barring relocation to a moon colony, being lost in space will never happen to me. Thanks to reports about norovirus breakouts on cruise ships, I have zero desire to ever take a cruise, meaning being lost at sea will also never happen to me. Which leaves me free to indulge my obsession with reading about shipwrecks. I was riveted to this book. Because El Faro's black box was recovered, we have access to hours of conversation in the bridge before and during the ship was sinking. There isn't any guesses as to what went on, while of course we can't know exactly what was going through the captain's head, from what he says and all the interviews Slade did with other mariners, we have a pretty good idea. It's heartbreaking and maddening to be able to see someone making bad decisions, but also know why those decisions are being made. Slade jumps back and forth between what is happening on the ship as she sails straight into a hurricane, and the history of the ship and of shipping in the US in general. This style of keeping the tension certainly kept me turning the pages, even though I already knew the ending. In addition to information about El Faro, the crew aboard, and the owner, TOTE, Slade includes incredibly interesting and infuriating facts about shipping regulations and how these huge shipping companies get away with sending out ships that aren't seaworthy because they claim repairs are too expensive. And how the Coast Guard is continually getting their budget slashed, which hamstrings them from doing anything. Oh yeah, and climate change is heating up the ocean, which will result in more powerful and unpredictable hurricanes like Joaquin, while weather predictions are also getting their budget slashed, which means we will be at a greater risk to be vulnerable to hurricanes. Yes, this book is sobering, for sure.
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  • Sam Klemens
    January 1, 1970
    It absolutely boggles the mind that this book is so well rated. It's horribly written. Rachel uses every hackneyed, cliched phrase and metaphor known to Christendom. It's like she Googled 50 most over-used cliches and made an effort to use each twice. The book is not logically laid out and more than once she spends several pages describing something that she described, poorly, one hundred pages ago! She goes off onto weird tangents about the past of some of these characters and comes to weird co It absolutely boggles the mind that this book is so well rated. It's horribly written. Rachel uses every hackneyed, cliched phrase and metaphor known to Christendom. It's like she Googled 50 most over-used cliches and made an effort to use each twice. The book is not logically laid out and more than once she spends several pages describing something that she described, poorly, one hundred pages ago! She goes off onto weird tangents about the past of some of these characters and comes to weird conclusions. For example, she lifts the only female on the bridge up to an elevated status, as if the fact that shipping frustrates her romantic life somehow outweighs the fact that she was bad at her job and reported their location incorrectly on the brink of a storm. I have to be honest, I didn't finish this book. Halfway through I promised myself I would because I wanted to get a feeling for what makes an atrocious book so smelly. But I couldn't do it. It's just too poorly written. That I finished 75% of it I consider heroic. If you enjoy good literature, if you admire competent writers, reading this is like having your eyeballs scooped out with a spoon. Please, Rachel, please don't write another book.
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  • Craig
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating story. I'm just not thrilled with the way it was told. The author is far from objective in her reporting. It is clear she believes the shipping company was to blame in this tragedy. So the question: Is this a fact-based documentary or an editorial? And there is a bit too much license taken in some spots. We're told that the crew's conversations are often hard to decipher. Yet along with their words (accuracy of which is not disputed) we're often told what the speaker is thinking an A fascinating story. I'm just not thrilled with the way it was told. The author is far from objective in her reporting. It is clear she believes the shipping company was to blame in this tragedy. So the question: Is this a fact-based documentary or an editorial? And there is a bit too much license taken in some spots. We're told that the crew's conversations are often hard to decipher. Yet along with their words (accuracy of which is not disputed) we're often told what the speaker is thinking and feeling at the time. There is no possible source for this information. It's made up. I am also suspicious of one source in the story - the"crewing manager." This person is never identified by name. Why not? For the sake of credibility the reasons why the crewing manager is not identified have to be stated clearly, even if it's that the source didn't want to be named. And what would been the harm or extra cost to include some diagrams of the ship so us drylanders could understand one is built?
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  • Lois
    January 1, 1970
    Ok, right off, let's clarify that it is not The Perfect (perfect) Storm. There are three current books about the El Faro disaster in release and I chose this one due to the NYorker or New York Times list. I was indeed riveted by the actual disaster and followed it in real time, reading some of the investigation online and having buddies at Mass Maritime who lost graduates. Its parallels to the Edmund Fitzgerald hooked me at the time (a friend lost her brother in that wreck) and the horror that t Ok, right off, let's clarify that it is not The Perfect (perfect) Storm. There are three current books about the El Faro disaster in release and I chose this one due to the NYorker or New York Times list. I was indeed riveted by the actual disaster and followed it in real time, reading some of the investigation online and having buddies at Mass Maritime who lost graduates. Its parallels to the Edmund Fitzgerald hooked me at the time (a friend lost her brother in that wreck) and the horror that this could be repeated in an era of better forecasting...I thought....and better tracking and communication with ships...I thought...was stunning. As a Leadership Mobile participant I toured a container port and learned all about container shipping and found it fascinating. Slade does a good job with that and with describing the ship and sailing. Would have been helpful to include graphics of the layout of the ship and photographs.
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  • Robert Rich
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating and heartbreaking story of the El Faro, an American cargo ship that sank in 2015 after it sailed almost into the eye of Hurricane Joaquin in the Atlantic as it headed to Puerto Rico. The book paints a clear picture of the poorly run shopping company (TOTE) that owned the ship, as well as the frustrating scene that were the investigative hearings following the accident. A great book, but a couple of points still drag it down: first, there are a litany of typos - does no one This is a fascinating and heartbreaking story of the El Faro, an American cargo ship that sank in 2015 after it sailed almost into the eye of Hurricane Joaquin in the Atlantic as it headed to Puerto Rico. The book paints a clear picture of the poorly run shopping company (TOTE) that owned the ship, as well as the frustrating scene that were the investigative hearings following the accident. A great book, but a couple of points still drag it down: first, there are a litany of typos - does no one proofread books anymore? Secondly, while there is clear blame to be placed on TOTE for poor management, the author’s clear bias against the company comes out often and takes away from impartiality in telling the story. Finally, the author does mention that all conversation in the book is taken from the ship’s black box, which is great, however she often writes of actions being taken and thoughts of crew members, which are in no way knowable from audio alone.
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  • Rita Ciresi
    January 1, 1970
    This well-researched book, which began as an article for Yankee magazine, details the events that led up to the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. The story is based upon actual dialogue recorded by the ship's black box in the hours leading up to the disaster and court records of the public investigation. In between the actual drama of the ship sinking and its aftermath, the author teaches us about shipbuilding, trade politics, Coast Guard safety, and the need for re This well-researched book, which began as an article for Yankee magazine, details the events that led up to the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. The story is based upon actual dialogue recorded by the ship's black box in the hours leading up to the disaster and court records of the public investigation. In between the actual drama of the ship sinking and its aftermath, the author teaches us about shipbuilding, trade politics, Coast Guard safety, and the need for responsible consumerism and attention to how our everyday lives affect the environment and climate. Prior to reading this book, I never really gave much thought to how goods were transported and traded both domestically and abroad. I learned a lot from reading this account and I hope to be more mindful of my purchasing habits, as well as grateful to the mariners and dockworkers who risk their lives on a daily basis.
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  • Monical
    January 1, 1970
    Even though you probably know the outcome (especially after the first chapter!), this book is a real page-turner. It was hard for me to put it down. Although written in the Jon Krakauer style of diversions into various topics (boats, that reminds me to tell you about the mariner history of the US... etc!), the book is very engaging, and the meanderings are quite interesting. I thought the book losts its way towards the end, and I would have liked more information about the last few hours. The de Even though you probably know the outcome (especially after the first chapter!), this book is a real page-turner. It was hard for me to put it down. Although written in the Jon Krakauer style of diversions into various topics (boats, that reminds me to tell you about the mariner history of the US... etc!), the book is very engaging, and the meanderings are quite interesting. I thought the book losts its way towards the end, and I would have liked more information about the last few hours. The denouement, with follow up on who had responsibility, was disappointing but not unexpected. I thought this book was better than "The Perfect Storm," partially because the author had the "black box" material and didn't have to invent what might have happened.
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very difficult book to read. The book was reviewed as a thriller about the sinking of a container ship in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Joaquin with a loss of 33 lives. It had some thriller elements but it had a bit too much technical information about the ship, the weather forecasting, the maritime company that was indifferent to the loss of the ship etc. This bogged down the compelling narrative of the ships loss and a tyrannical captain who wouldn't listen to reason. I think This was a very difficult book to read. The book was reviewed as a thriller about the sinking of a container ship in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Joaquin with a loss of 33 lives. It had some thriller elements but it had a bit too much technical information about the ship, the weather forecasting, the maritime company that was indifferent to the loss of the ship etc. This bogged down the compelling narrative of the ships loss and a tyrannical captain who wouldn't listen to reason. I think the writer explained this technical information as carefully as she could but it clearly detracted from the narrative. I would recommend this book more to technocrats who are interested in the inner workings of todays maritime fleets rather than shipwreck adventure fans like myself.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    What a good book this is. Rachel Slade takes the reader right on to the El Faro and into the minds of the 33 crew members, their bosses, their families and into the minds of the people who looked for and found the ship. For me the book read like a good fiction novel, except that it was not. How could a 970 foot container ship completely disappear with all hands on board? What was amazing to think about was that all the dialogue in the book from the crew members, came from the Voyage Data Recorde What a good book this is. Rachel Slade takes the reader right on to the El Faro and into the minds of the 33 crew members, their bosses, their families and into the minds of the people who looked for and found the ship. For me the book read like a good fiction novel, except that it was not. How could a 970 foot container ship completely disappear with all hands on board? What was amazing to think about was that all the dialogue in the book from the crew members, came from the Voyage Data Recorder (the VBS). This book was exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. Thanks to Ms. Slade for writing this book. Hope to see another one from her in the future.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a former merchant marine engineering officer and just finished reading Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro. I found it to be quite a well written book. It is unfortunate that the subject had to be the needless death of 33 mariners. When all was said and done, a summary question might be "how many mistakes does it take to sink a ship?" Kudo's to the author for doing surprisingly well writing the book despite lacking a nautical background. Slad I'm a former merchant marine engineering officer and just finished reading Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro. I found it to be quite a well written book. It is unfortunate that the subject had to be the needless death of 33 mariners. When all was said and done, a summary question might be "how many mistakes does it take to sink a ship?" Kudo's to the author for doing surprisingly well writing the book despite lacking a nautical background. Slade does have a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania so isn't a stranger to things technical.
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  • Daniel Miller
    January 1, 1970
    This book contains a little bit of Puerto Rico, A lot about the U.S. maritime industry, a summary of the key crew members and the decisions by the captain, the non-decisions by the other officers and the shipping company that cause the loss of these lives and the politics that controls the U.S. Coast Guard. Anyone who is curious about disasters, their causes and how they are investigated will find this to be a great read. Like all contemporary disasters, this one created some critical additions This book contains a little bit of Puerto Rico, A lot about the U.S. maritime industry, a summary of the key crew members and the decisions by the captain, the non-decisions by the other officers and the shipping company that cause the loss of these lives and the politics that controls the U.S. Coast Guard. Anyone who is curious about disasters, their causes and how they are investigated will find this to be a great read. Like all contemporary disasters, this one created some critical additions to the shipping industry's safety regulations.
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  • Monica
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing story of a shipwreck.. and what appears to be a totally mismanaged ship and a mess of a company, Tote. In addition to the tragedy, the book includes lots of history on the shipping industry. The story was gripping, although I do admit I got overwhelmed and skimmed a lot of the second half of the book detailing the investigation of what went wrong. The level of detail ( maritime, engineering, management, etc) is overwhelming. I am fascinated by the level of research the author did.
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  • Andrew Mathis
    January 1, 1970
    Incredible story of tragedy and failureWith the conversations from the doomed ship preserved from the El Faro's black box, this book reads like a novel. A tragic novel where the ending is known and the players must play their part. It serves as a warning to the U.S. Shipping industry and citizenry as budget cuts and corporates greed replace compassion for the people working and running our economy.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Much of what I heard about this book touted the availability of a transcript made from a "black box" recording from the ship that the author was able to use. So, she did not have to guess about dialogue on the bridge prior to the tragedy. But I feel like there were other areas where she would have been better letting the facts speak for themselves: parts of the book dealing with politics and with the emotions presumably felt by crew members. I keep wavering between 3 stars and 4. Maybe 3.5?
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  • Lisa M Friesen
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fascinating book. True stories are usually too wordy and boring, this was neither. The author wrote a dire story of American Cargo Shipping. All the regulations, the broken rules and the breakdown of communication to the large corporations who own the ships. These CEOs in charge care little about the crew and more about the cargo and profit. And never in this story did the author forget about the loss of 33 lives. A must read that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
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