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Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,926 ratings  ·  395 reviews
On 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.

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Ecco
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alphonse p guardino I did not think it at all too technical.

There were some places where I would have trimmed some history info not directly related to the El Faro. But …more
I did not think it at all too technical.

There were some places where I would have trimmed some history info not directly related to the El Faro. But I would have liked more tech info, as well as ship diagrams and photos. But then I'm an engineering grad of NY Maritime, have some shipboard experience and a lot of power plant experience.(less)
J.P. Mac
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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 ·  2,926 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Start your review of Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shelf-awareness
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In short, the company TOTE fucked over their crew by having out of date software and hardware.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
David V.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Important story, amateurishly told. The author had access to recordings of conversations on the bridge, which is great, but she made up thoughts and emotions to go along with those conversations. There's no way she could have known what a crew member was thinking or feeling. The book is also studded with clichés and grammatical errors. ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
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. ...more
Scott  Hitchcock

A lot more social commentary than most of the books I've read in this genre. This book tackles corporate avarice, global warming, outdated legislature and other topics which all played into the demise of these 33 souls. The sea doesn't suffer mistakes lightly.
Patrick SG
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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'
David Holoman
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Four starts minus one:

The fact research, assembly, and presentation of this event are very well done. The prose is work-person-like and not likely to catch the attention of the Pulitzer gang or similar. The story itself is absolutely compelling: how an american vessel can be lost in peacetime in essentially domestic waters in the 21st century. I tore right through it.

The author gets out of her depth quickly when attempting analysis rather than reporting.

However the book is seriously flawed. As
Tonstant Weader
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Shortly before dawn on Thursday, October 1, 2015, an American merchant captain named Michael Davidson sailed a 790-foot U.S.-flagged cargo ship, El Faro, into the eye of a Category 3 hurricane near the the Bahama Islands.

This book was a riveting sea story of a horrible disaster. Many readers will enjoy it purely for that reason, but it's so much more. It details the struggles and challenges faced by mariners making a living on the sea, and the impact our society has on people when it makes decis
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not my usual reading, but I read an excerpt in Vanity Fair and was completely knocked out by the author’s ability to make me see the crew of El Faro, feel like I knew them without being all corny/Hollywood about it — and I could envision the boat, the towering stacks of containers, imagine the terrific power of the sea. 33 people on a 700+foot boat vs. hurricane.

I’d never given much thought to the importance of shipping in the global economy, even though I see containers leaving the Port of Sea
Melanie Johnson
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don’t usually like “boat, sea-faring, arrrr” kind of books; however, this was fascinating! A true story about the El Faro that sailed out of Jacksonville headed to Puerto Rico in the midst of a storm that they knew nothing about. It was heartbreaking but also super interesting. I learned a lot about the shipping industry (which most of take for granted), a lot about the Coast Guard and about the types of people that run these ships and love the sea.
Personally, my husband and I boat around Jac
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love reading about the ocean and boat disasters (I love boats and airplanes...), and I remember when this boat sank, so I was eager to learn more. However, while I was reading this, I would tell people about it, and I was surprised at how many people had completely forgotten this had occurred! So I suppose it's for the best that Slade has written this gorgeous book to keep the memory of El Faro alive, and emphasize the problems with the United States shipping industry. I heard Slade speak abou ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow, this was a fantastic book. It's a real page-turner of a non-fiction book; I read many chapters nearly breathlessly. I also learned a lot that I didn't know going in--for example, it goes into detail about the international shipping industry, the Coast Guard, and the merchant marines. It's a tragic story that has gotten a well-deserved and skillful write-up in this book. ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my kind of thriller, I was so nervous reading this that I had to google the outcome which truly broke my heart. An incredibly detailed account of a tragic ending, I blistered through the book, I am always in awe of the sea.
Jodi Guerra
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful and moving account on par with the best of marine non-fiction and the finest investigative journalism blockbusters.

Slade has done the seemingly impossible through impeccable research and unflinching passion. The first part of the book is as taut and tense as Junger’s The Perfect Storm. The difference? Every bit of dialog was recorded by a black box of sorts in the ship’s bridge, and Slade is merely curating and reporting it. Drawing on interviews with family members, the doome
In October 2015, the container ship El Faro sailed into hurricane Joaquin. Joaquin grew into one of the worst storms in the history of Atlantic weather. 33 lives were gone in instant.

Rachel Slade, an investigative journalist, took on a story that should have held me captive. I love non-fiction, and this type of book is one of my favorite genres. Instead, I found myself finishing it only out of respect for the families who lost their love ones in this disaster.
here's why:

Instead of sticking to th
Jill Robbertze
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book so interesting. I have learned a lot about merchant shipping and it's history but mainly I was drawn into the story of how this avoidable tragedy came about and what they went through. ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
A tragic and compelling story marred in the telling by the author’s insistence on weaving her personal politics throughout the narrative.
derek allard
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully structured and genuinely moving. I cried, I was mad ... I felt like I was a part of this horrible story. I would have given it 5 stars but didn’t for 2 reasons: 1. The author never interviewed anyone from TOTE and 2. The author injected her own politics into the conclusion of the book. Neither of these are egregious but having all parties interviewed for the book would have felt fairer (and believe me I do not doubt what is written about TOTE executives here, but it felt ...more
Sam Klemens
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recently I’ve been talking about going on a cruise with my family for my mom’s birthday in May. After 48 hours with this book– and, because I’m me, a few additional hours watching horrifying YouTube videos of ships in hurricanes– I’m no longer feeling quite as excited about that idea.

I’m obviously not spoiling anything about this book by saying that the fate of El Faro and her crew was not great. Somewhere in the Caribbean, she’s still there– some 15,000 feet below the surface of the ocean– and
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic look at the sinking of a massive American cargo ship in 2015 in Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas. Slade did thorough research in talking to many people connected to maritime activity or connected to the lost crew of El Faro, and she had access to the final 24 hours of recordings from the bridge of the doomed vessel.

Slade's research gave her the tools to flesh out the characters of the crew and a few key people on shore, and her lucid writing style makes her narrative highly compell
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It told the story of El Faro and her tragedy well and you got to really get a feel for the ship and where and how is was constructed. I'm glad I read it, and it made me look for more books of the same subject matter.

My criticisms of the book are the same as many of the other people. Slade goes on tangents that tie loosely to the central theme of the book. Some believe the book is too political, but in reality the politics of oversight and enforcement budgets being slashed b
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You'd expect a bunch of drama from the tale of a massive cargo ship (El Faro) sailing into a massive hurricane (Joaquin) and sinking to the deepest part of the Atlantic, killing all 33 crew members aboard. And, aided by transcripts of the final days and hours taken from the ship's "black box", Rachel Slade definitely delivers on that front. Harrowing shit, and why I'm terrified of the ocean. But Slade, a crack reporter and vivid writer, also weaves into Into the Raging Sea a concise history of c ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. It's hard not to compare this book to The Perfect Storm, which was also an excellent book about another well-known marine disaster. This book is pretty great, well researched, and contains lots of good information about the history of the American shipping industry as well as the economic and political circumstances which led to El Faro sailing unaware and woefully unprepared into a massive hurricane. The story leaves you shaking your head in disbelief at certain moments as Slade deco ...more
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, tragic, unputdownable. It is also so much more than a harrowing tale of mariners lost at sea. It is without a doubt one of the most vivid and devastating portrayals of economic forces on and recent history of shipping and transportation of goods in the brave new globalized world. Those forces affect shipbuilding, labor, regulation and oversight, technology, and, most fatefully the decision-making of the corporations behind the scenes. The ultimate villain was Tote Maritime, the inco ...more
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“From the point of view of admiralty law, this was a smart position for Morrell to take. The Limitation of Liability Act, passed in 1851, caps a shipowner’s liability to the value of the ship, if the accident is not caused by the vessel owner’s neglect or malfeasance. In other words, as long as a shipping company doesn’t interfere with its captain’s decisions while he or she is at sea, explains admiralty and maritime lawyer Chris Hug, vessel owners can limit their liability when the causes of the accident occurred without their “privity or knowledge.” Shipping was a risky business throughout the nineteenth century; Congress believed that its role was to shelter owners from lawsuits and egregious payouts. Now much of American admiralty law focuses on who is responsible for what, and much of it favors the shipowners. One could say that before the age of satellite communication, the Limitation of Liability Act made a certain amount of sense. When a vessel was out of sight of land, its owners had no means of contacting it. At that point, how could they prevent their officers from making fatal decisions? Holding a shipping company accountable didn’t seem fair. But these days, the law seems profoundly anachronistic. It could even encourage deliberate negligence.” 0 likes
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