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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,246 ratings  ·  191 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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Maggie I knew next to nothing about maritime stuff before I read this book (unlike Alphonse, who commented previously), but it was not too technical for me.…moreI knew next to nothing about maritime stuff before I read this book (unlike Alphonse, who commented previously), but it was not too technical for me. I found the diagrams that were provided very helpful, but I too would have liked to see photos. All in all, I think Slade does a brilliant job of making the topic accessible, even for rookie landlubbers like me.(less)

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4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,246 ratings  ·  191 reviews

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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
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 r ...more
Brenda A
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
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.
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.
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.
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'
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
I think these disaster books are often like true crime accounts--lots of backstory of the participants (here captain and crew), a history of events (the final voyage of the container ship El Faro and its disastrous encounter with a powerful hurricane), and the outcome (the discovery that the ship was structurally unsound and lacked important technology as well as enough safety equipment for the crew, the captain was oblivious to warnings, and the owning company escaped responsibility.) Slade com ...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
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to imagine a 790 foot ship carrying hundreds of steel containers, tons of vehicles, and a crew of 33 to vanish into the ocean. It doesn't happen often. The El Faro was a ship that had seen better days, making a regular cargo voyage from Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico. She was still seaworthy, but not when sailing into the eye of a category 3 hurricane packing 120 mile per hour winds. Though we know the fate of the vessel, the suspense of this tale is acute. The author fills us in ...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
Salty Swift
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How do you reconcile a maritime disaster where a container ship sinks in the eye of a hurricane for no good reason at all. The story of El Faro sailing its last voyage between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico is a sad one. Corporate indifference, brazen macho stupidity of the vessel captain, high employee turnover, numerous safety lapses are all reasons that raise massive amount of fury in the reader. Thirty three lives were lost in the name of higher profits sailing a vessel that should’ve been scr ...more
Sharon Watkins
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a can't-put-it-down book. It is a harrowing story of the wreck of El Faro, a container ship that sailed into Hurricane Joaquin, the extensive efforts to find the wreckage, and the investigation in the aftermath, which clearly exposes the greed and callousness of the company that owned and operated the vessel. Slade lays the story out in a way that draws the reader in incrementally. She details everything someone who is unfamiliar with commercial shipping might want to know about the rece ...more
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
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book made me sad, and then angry. I honestly didn't know a thing about any huge container ship being lost at sea until I saw this book on an end cap at Books a Million. I was intrigued, and now I am in turns greatly saddened at the loss of life, and horrified at the lack of accountability in regards to the accident.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
An incredible review of how many systematic failures at many different levels can lead to a terrible and completely avoidable disaster. Management failures by the company, dramatic cost cutting, understaffing, ignored safety regulations and upgrades not done in order to save money, misunderstood/old weather reports, and massive overconfidence of the captain that everything would turn out ok because it always had before. Fascinating to put it into context not only of a terrible disaster for the f ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, read2019
enthralling - personal stories skillfully interspersed with historical exploration of hurricanes and the shipping industry
Freeman Fridie
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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.
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This account of a shipwreck reads like a movie, and is also an infuriating indictment of corporate greed, regulatory corner-cutting, and male hubris.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this book. I was shocked this happened so recently (2015). Truthfully I did not remember it being in the news. 2015 and the old ship was so ill-equipped. Bottom line for me is that this was a result of corporate greed. There were human errors along the way too, but it was the overall problems stemming from management ignorance and personnel cuts of experienced people who knew their jobs. Hopefully this tragedy led to safer ships today.
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