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on September 19, 2012
April 15, 1912: The Titanic
April 20, 2010: The Deepwater Horizon.

Two infamous sea disasters that we must keep in our collective consciousness, and from which we must study the lessons, to insure the safety of future generations yet unborn.

When James Cameron set forth to make the R.M.S. Titanic's tale come alive on the screen, he chose "faction", a fact-based fiction approach. Cameron's fictional characters Jack and Rose were always in the "right place at the right time" (more so than any real individual survivors of the Titanic) to tell the most complete story possible about the ill-fated vessel and the hundreds of souls aboard.

In this book, John Turley takes the same approach. Mr. Turley is a retired petroleum engineer with many years of oil-rig experience, so he knew how to create fictional characters who would be in the right place, at the right time, asking the right questions. Specifically, Jessica Pherma, the rig's geologist. Jessica is the "Rose" asking Thomas Andrews about the lifeboat capacity, only more so. Jessica has access to the highest levels of the rig's administration, yet she can logically ask the same questions you, the general reader, would ask. Jessica, and all of her experiences in the story, perfectly illustrate Turley's masterful command of blending fact and fiction into "faction".

One paragraph in this novel brilliantly illustrated all the reasons why Jessica chose a career in geology, only to find all of those reasons being negated by her presence on the Deepwater Horizon on that fateful evening. This paragraph was a stunning insight into the basic character of what shapes our humanity, never mind that it's "fiction".

Make no mistake, this story can get a bit technical at times. Fortunately, Mr. Turley went to great effort to insure that you can choose how far you wish to delve into the technology behind the story. Extensive footnotes and diagrams allow you to dive in as deep as you wish, or you can skip them and stay with the main story. Accessing the supplementary material is in fact easier on the Kindle than it is in the paper book.

Movie producers, take note. If anyone wishes to make a film about the Deepwater Horizon, you should use this book as the base. We all know how successful Cameron's "right place at the right time" characters Jack and Rose were in making the story of the Titanic come alive for the audience. Turley's composite characters Jessica, Barry, Tanker, and Daylight succeed as much (or more so) than Jack and Rose did in making the events of a large-scale marine disaster accessible, immediate and moving to the general audience.

John Turley has succeeded in telling the story of the Deepwater Horizon in a dramatic style that will appeal to readers of general fiction, while simultaneously giving you access to the essential, simple truths behind the oversights and general arrogance that led to this disaster. Imagine what a book about the Titanic would have been like if it had been written by the Captain of the Olympic. For the Deepwater Horizon, you don't have to imagine such a novel. It's right here, on this Amazon page.

The world needs more people like John Turley, to record for posterity the simple truths behind the large-scale disasters, and present them in a fashion people can enjoy reading while they learn those important lessons.


review by Daven Anderson
Vampire Syndrome (Erotica)
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on June 11, 2014
Turley uses a narrative to walk us through the technology and the decisions that led to the disaster. The characters are cliche, but they keep the story moving, and keep the read from getting too dry - it's an interesting way to present a lot of technical material. Having just gotten interested in deep water drilling, I found the technical descriptions and diagrams very educational - it's a good introduction to deep water drilling. Lastly, the indictment of BP decision making is damning. The drilling supervisor (company man) in particular is portrayed as highly competent yet still willing to follow every cost-cutting decision that comes down from management. And there were a lot of them.
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on July 16, 2013
Author did a good job of presenting some very technical info in a way that was understandable. The graphics were very useful in making sense of all the factors that play in managing a difficult environment. Plus a rational explanation for what happened on the Transocean platform that caused the blowout.

Thanks John, for taking the time.
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on February 27, 2016
I'm a petroleum engineer, but this surely was an 'in the weeds' rendition of what went on. By trying to amalgamate and fictionalize the characters (with a focus on two players and the undercurrent of sexual tension between them), I was left wanting. The character development was thinly veiled, predictable and tedious - if you told me it was done by an engineer on his first ever fiction attempt, I wouldn't have been surprised. But then jam in a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo into what could have been summarized in a 12 page white paper and my head was truly ready to explode by the end. Not a fan...
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on October 31, 2014
Having spent the majority of my career, almost 25 years now, in various aspects of the pipeline industry, I found this book fascinating. The author's point that numerous high-alert persons could have stepped in at a number of points and prevented this disaster is an excellent illustration of how high profile events often occur. This point reinforces the importance of an effective "safety culture" within an organization.

If you, like me, are unfamiliar with the process of offshore drilling, be prepared to read the book numerous times. As you read it again and again, things that were confusing the first time become very clear.

I highly recommend this book for anyone involved in an industry where low probability, high consequence events can happen as a result of things like normalization of deviation from standard procedures, lack of adequate procedures, or financial/productivity pressure can have tragic results. People who work in these industries need to be reminded of the potential consequence of not working safely. This is especially important in cases where "we've done this a hundred times and nothing bad ever happened".

While I read this as a Kindle book, due to the numerous diagrams and drawings, I would encourage others to consider buying the printed version to make it easier to reference the illustrations and quickly return to the text. The Kindle formatting for this particular book made it difficult to accomplish this.

Thanks to Mr. Turley for making this disaster understandable and offering us all the opportunity to learn from it and prevent something with similar root causes, whether offshore or not, from recurring.
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on January 19, 2014
This is an excellent and outstanding technically written book about the Macondo Incident, unfortunate disaster that took eleven hard working colleagues innocent lives with a major environmental impact that will effect Gulf of Mexico for many decayed to come and the Upstream Oil & Gas Industry activities. The book has been written technically very well. It has been written with the supporting documents and technical information. If you are Petroleum or Chemical Engineer who works in Upstream Oil & Gas Industry (Drilling & Completion), this is a must book to read. In addition, if you have experiences in Process Safety no matter in any of the Oil & Gas streams (Downstream, Midstream or Upstream), it will add a lot to your understanding about the cases of this disaster. John has explained the incident so well that really will open your eyes. I highly encourage everyone who is in Oil & Gas industry to read this book.
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on September 17, 2012
There have been many books about the after-effects BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon, and many about the debacle of BP's response to what is arguably the worst petroleum-related affront to nature since the Exxon-Valdez. But John Turley's _The Simple Truth_ is the only book I know of that tells the story of what _led_ to the disaster. Written as fiction, Turley has taken the literary liberty of combining dozens of individuals both on and off the rig into a handfull of fascinating characters whose decisions, both well-intentioned and not so much, led to worst environmental disaster of the last 20+ years.

Turley writes about the many failures, bureaucratic, individual and mechanical, with the authority of a multiple-decade petroleum engineer, someone who actually worked on offshore rigs. And he doesn't shy away from engineering details. But instead of boring the reader, Turely expertly weaves the technicalities into the narrative so the reader enjoys really _understanding_ what went wrong and why. The main characters: late twenty- or early thirty-something Jessica Pherma is a geologist with no real-world experience is mentored by the seasoned rig foreman Barry Edgerton. As Jessica learns about the workings of a rig from Barry so does the reader.

_The Simple Truth_ is a "must read" for anyone who wants to understand the BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon blow-out and the resulting oil-spill and _why_ it happened. Residents of the gulf, friends and family of those who survived the blow-out and the eleven men who did not, ocean lovers and politicians (whose job it is ultimately to make sure nothing like this ever happens again) -- all of these will find this an entertaining, engaging and informative book. Fully footnoted with numerous pictures and diagrams, the book is nonetheless a captivating read about _people_, both their virtues and foibles.
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on August 25, 2015
I though the author did a good job of fictionalizing the events prior to the blowout and allowing the reader to understand and even work through the calculations on what was happening. The multiple epilogs were also helpful in reviewing the final outcome.
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on January 2, 2013
The author obviously has the expertise to analyze what went wrong with this well that blew out uncontrollably. It may be too technical for the average reader. I am a petroleum engineer and understand what Mr. Turley is saying and he has explained the technical side extremely well. I think most of us in the industry were aghast at how BP personnel handled the situation. It is obvious that BP exerted high economic pressure on their field supervisors which directly lead to making amateur mistakes and convincing themselves that everything was okay. I am also surprised that the drilling contract supervision didn't stand up to be counted when they saw BP conducting improper procedures.
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on April 13, 2013
As and old petroleum engineer, and also a fellow CSM graduate,I appreciate the good descriptions of the rig, and I assume that his description of the blowout, although presented as a novel, is factual. Doesn't paint a pretty final picture of the company man. Good story.
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