WINNER OF THE MAINE LITERARY AWARD FOR NON FICTION
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF JANET MASLIN’S MUST-READ BOOKS OF THE SUMMER
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR'S CHOICE
ONE OF OUTSIDE MAGAZINE’S BEST BOOKS OF THE SUMMER
ONE OF AMAZON'S BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR SO FAR
“A powerful and affecting story, beautifully handled by Slade, a journalist who clearly knows ships and the sea.”—Douglas Preston, New York Times Book Review
“A Perfect Storm for a new generation.”
—Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook
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.
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.
This well-crafted and gripping account lays out the circumstances which led to the deaths of 33 crew members of the container ship El Faro when it sank east of the Bahamas in 2015 during a hurricane. Journalist Slade frames the tragedy with a meticulous review of all the ways in which it could have been avoided. Deregulation was a major factor, she concludes; El Faro was allowed to embark from Jacksonville, Fla., to Puerto Rico, despite numerous vulnerabilities, including outdated lifeboats and design flaws that left it prone to being flooded in bad weather. The push to minimize oversight was driven by shipping companies such as El Faro's owner, Tote, whose profits depended on making speedy delivery of goods. Capt. Michael Davidson, meanwhile, repeatedly ignored advice from his crew to take a route that would keep the vessel further away from the powerful storm, perhaps out of fear that his professional future hinged on an on-time delivery. Slade had access to 26 hours of audio on the ship's voyage data recorder, and she presents the actual conversations crew members had before the end, highlighting their stoicism. This is a painful and poignant narrative.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Into the Raging Sea
An excellent work of research, journalism and clear writing style. Explanations of hurricane formation and behavior, ship construction and performance and the human element in sailing were very informative.
One suggestion: a map of the ship’s route keyed to critical times and the location of the storm and its eye would have most welcome.
Jim Lyons, Denver, CO
Into the Raging Sea
A very engrossing read. Didn’t know anything about this actual event, so reading about it and learning about the maritime industry (what an absolutely criminal mess) made me furious and sad. As long as rich ship owners exist, we will continue to see these preventable tragedies happen. I just hope authors like this one continue to tell the world about them.
First to the store
Ms Slade and her publisher knew the first titilating book to the trough about this tragedy would sell big.
As a published author and maritime Academy grad who spent years on merchant ships and an insider to the troubles at Saltchuck, I see her writing as mediocre and her research misses the real reason for this tragedy. She spends a great deal of time giving her views on race relations ( generally not a problem on ships) and other social topics and misses the real heart of this story...the big corporate problem of profit before safety at the parent Saltchuk. Wait for a better researched book to find out what really happened