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Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Fire on the Horizon is a fascinating look at a little-understood industry and a fast-paced and emotional story of the efforts to save the Deepwater Horizon. The authors’ account of the workers’ race to save themselves is thrilling and suspenseful, and yet the book is also a sensitive account of the lives forever changed.  Miami Herald

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/13/v-print/2109991/what-happened-on-deepwater...#ixzz1GWmwiSCV

From Publishers Weekly

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062063006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062063007
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When the Deepwater Horizon suffered a blowout, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last April, it was only forty miles off the coast of Louisiana. Yet, in many respects, the world aboard the ill-fated rig was as alien to most of us as if it had been dropped from outer space. Even within the shipping industry, deep-water offshore drilling is often poorly understood, a world wholly unto itself.

Nevertheless, the catastrophe on the Deepwater Horizon touched us all. The explosion and fire killed eleven, injured seventeen and resulted in the worst accidental marine oil spill in history. The impact, on both the environment of the Gulf of Mexico and on offshore oil policy, is likely to be far reaching. This is why John Konrad's and Tom Schorder's new book, Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster, is so timely and so welcome.

Konrad knows of what he writes. He is a veteran drill rig captain and a former employee of Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon. He also is the founder of the excellent maritime industry blog, gCaptain.com. Konrad is assisted by Tom Schoder, who was the editor of the Washington Post Magazine when the magazine won, not one, but two Pulitzer Prizes.

The Deepwater Horizon was one of the most powerful industrial machines ever built. A semi-submersible, dynamically-positioned, ultra-deepwater rig - it was part ship and part drilling platform. The rig was 367' long and 256' wide and was 395' tall from the thrusters to the top of the derrick, roughly as tall as a 40 story office tower. When she was built in 2000 in Korea, she was the state of the art in deep water drilling.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a member of gCaptain, I received an email about this book when it came out. I was excited to see a book written by a fellow mariner, so I bought it for my next hitch. Currently I am working tugs for the better schedule to be home with my family, while trying my best to get into a Gulf job, which would be even better.

When I started my hitch, I set the book down on the table in the galley, I figured the crew would enjoy reading it, I usually stick to sleeping to movies in my off time. I had to pick up a really long watch and decided I would pick the book up and give it a try, if I don't get sucked into a book within the first 10 pages, I won't finish it. Needless to say, I was excited reading the book, I had to take breaks to tell my wife she needed to read it. It's hard to describe going to an academy and going out to sea to the layperson. My wife is slowly learning, and her family has no clue what I go through, or my family goes through. This book took the words right out of my mouth, was like the author was describing my life. I wanted her and her family to read the book, just to understand my life.

The description of the characters, giving their backgrounds, showing the type of person they were, painted a perfect picture of most the guys I know. The way it was written really sucks you into the lives of the crew, you feel as though you had known them for years. I believe these men and one woman convey the image of the epitome of seafarers.

When disaster struck, it happened suddenly, kind of caught me off guard. Maybe I was so engulfed in the story and the peoples lives that I felt like I was there. Then once the alarm sounds, it brought out all the times I've been jolted by a sudden odd alarm.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a gCaptain member I bought this book based on John Konrad's reputation as a blogger. I came away feeling disappointed.

I found his descriptions of the industry to be extraordinarily perceptive. The contrast between the hyper employee safety programs and the risks taken with those same employee's lives with executive level decisions was insightful. The general descriptions of what can only be termed as the 'oil field culture' were what saved this book from being a 2 star rating.

Unfortunately, I felt a large contrast between the author's comfort zone about the industry and his awkwardness in telling the personal stories of the men and women involved. I was left with the very distinct impression that the people he chose to follow in the book were the only ones he could get to talk with him, however briefly. The obvious exception being Dave Young. An admitted academy friend and one whose story the author takes great pains to paint in a favorable light. The author will make a statement regarding an aspect of rig life and seem to contradict that statement in the following paragraphs. I have watched the USCG depositions of the crew on C-Span, some of the events in this book are represented differently than the events they themselves have described.

I left disappointed with this book. I read it expecting to read an insider's impression of the incident. Instead, I found that view wedged between barely researched biographies, factual errors and contradictions.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a professional mariner with experience in the Gulf of Mexico's oil patch, I have crossed paths with John Konrad many times. I was quite impressed the way he and his co-author presented this tale. The book places the emphasis on the most important yet often forgotten aspect of the disaster: The men and women who suffered and died. The authors went to great lenghths to keep the book in that perspective while also doing a fine job of describing how these offshore installations are built, positioned, operated, and maintained.

Also brought to light was the disconnect between what folks working on the beach and the folks working the rigs and the workboats consider to be a safe working environment. The most dangerous example I found was the fact that the rig personnel were not allowed to carry knives, so when they needed one to cut their liferaft loose they were unable to do so. Mariners forbidden to carry knives?! Really.

This book let's you smell the salt air, the diesel fumes; feel the stress and external corporate pressures; get blown across the deck by the exploding gas, and agonize over the loss of eleven hard working oilfield personnel.

If you're a sailor you'll love this book. If you've never seen the sea you'll love this book while you learn much about the blowout. It is authentic because Konrad knows the people, equipment, and companies involved. Who better to tell the story?
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