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Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disasterby Tom Shroder
Synopses & Reviews
A real-life thriller in the tradition of The Perfect Storm
In the spring of 2010 the world watched for weeks as more than 200 million gallons of crude oil billowed from a hole three miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Warnings of various and imminent environmental consequences dominated the news. Deepwater drilling—largely ignored or misunderstood to that point—exploded in the American consciousness in the worst way possible.
Fire on the Horizon, written by veteran oil rig captain John Konrad and longtime Washington Post journalist Tom Shroder, recounts in vivid detail the life of the rig itself, from its construction in South Korea in the year 2000 to its improbable journey around the world to its disastrous end, and reveals the day-to-day lives, struggles, and ambitions of those who called it home.
From the little-known maritime colleges to Transocean's training schools and Houston headquarters to the small towns all over the country where the wives and children of the Horizon's crew lived in the ever-present shadow of risk hundreds of miles away, Fire on the Horizon offers full-scale portraits of the Horizon's captain, its chief mate, its chief mechanic, and others.
What emerges is a white-knuckled chronicle of engineering hubris at odds with the earth itself, an unusual manifestation of corporate greed and the unforgettable heroism of the men and women on board the Deepwater Horizon. Here is the harrowing minute-by-minute account of the fateful day, April 20, 2010, when the half-billion-dollar rig blew up, taking with it the lives of eleven people and leaving behind a swath of unprecedented natural destruction.
"Konrad, a veteran oil rig captain, teams up with Shroder (Old Souls) to offer a thorough but plodding look at the 'little-understood culture of offshore drilling.' Starting in Korea with the construction of the Deepwater Horizon in 2000, the authors leapfrog through time and around the globe to explain the history and mechanics of oil rig life and offshore drilling. Profiles of the (mostly) men who work the rigs shed light on the class tensions aboard as well as on the personalities, educations, and customs of this special set of modern-day mariners. Konrad had close friends on the Horizon and the final chapters are an affecting blend of their firsthand accounts of the explosion. The authors suggest that oil rig blowouts are inevitable: while Transocean Ltd., owner of the Horizon and the world's biggest offshore drilling company, does what it can to prevent common safety hazards, the high cost of delays in the offshore oil business (use of the Horizon was costing BP a minute) encourages management to postpone the maintenance of essential equipment. While informative and undeniably important, the book is so bogged down by clunky prose and jargon that it's difficult to mine its message. (Apr.) C reating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach Martha Nussbaum Harvard Univ., .95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-674-05054-9 Offering a forceful and persuasive account of the failings of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an accurate reflection of human welfare, the distinguished philosopher Nussbaum (Frontiers of Justice) provides a framework for a new account of global development based on the concept of capabilities. Taking her cue from the work of economist Amartya Sen, the author argues that human development is best measured in terms of specific opportunities available to individuals rather than economic growth figures. Nussbaum strives to provide a comprehensive practical and theoretical framework by linking capabilities with education, human rights, justice, and democracy. Placing this approach within a broad lineage that reaches back to Aristotle, Nussbaum makes a strong case both for its philosophical pedigree and its ability to deal with such contemporary issues as gender equality and animal rights. Though the complexity of questions raised would seem to demand a more detailed account of how the capabilities approach might be implemented, as an introduction to the issues and as an indictment of current development indexes, this small book provides a strong foundation for beginning to think about how economic growth and individual flourishing might coincide. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A phenomenal feat of journalism. . . . I tore through it like a novel but with the queasy knowledge that the whole damn thing is true." —Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and War
Blending exclusive first-person interviews and penetrating investigative reporting, oil rig captain John Konrad and veteran Washington Post writer Tom Shroder give the definitive, white-knuckled account of the Deepwater Horizon explosion—as well as a riveting insiders view of the byzantine culture of offshore drilling that made the disaster inevitable. As the world continues to cope with the oil spills grim aftermath—with environmental and economic consequences all the more dire in a region still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina—Konrad and Schroders real-time account of the disaster shows us just where things went wrong, and points the way to a safer future for us all.
About the Author
Tom Shroder was an editor and writer at The Washington Post from 1999 to 2009. Under his stewardship, The Washington Post Magazine won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in both 2008 and 2010. He is the author of the nonfiction bestseller Old Souls. He lives in Vienna, Virginia.
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