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Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster Hardcover – March 26, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Refreshingly different... Run to Failure reads like a thriller, com­plete with whistle-blowers and double agents... Lustgarten paints a picture of neglect, hollow proclamations about safety and environmental stewardship, and draco­nian cost-trimming going back two decades." - Nature, March 8, 2012.

A "scathing expose." - Reuters, March 12, 2012.
 

"A gripping account of a catastrophe foretold, Run to Failure explains not just why the spill happened, but why it didn't have to. It should be required reading in boardrooms across America," - Elizabeth Kolbert

 
"This often breathless account is a wakeup call, and affords a timely consideration of the nature of international business and its relationship to government." - Publisher's Weekly.  

About the Author

Abrahm Lustgraten is an award-winning reporter for ProPublica and a former writer for Fortune. He covers energy and environmental topics, including natural gas, renewable energy, water resources, and energy policy. He is a winner of numerous prizes, including the George Polk Award for environmental reporting, the Stokes Award for best energy writing, a Sigma Delti Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and several awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists.  Lustgarten has appeared frequently on national media to discuss energy issues, including NPR's Fresh Air, Rachel Maddow, and Hardball with Chris Mathews. In 2004 Lustgarten recieved a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support his international reporting in China and Tibet, a project that led to his first book, China's Great Train. And his work on BP, which led to his second book Run To Failure, was nominated for an Emmy after it aired in a PBS Frontline documentary. Lustgarten lives in San Francisco, CA. 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081626
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roberto Perez-Franco on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
How a culture of corner-cutting and wishful-thinking spawned a disaster in offshore drilling
[Review published in MIT's The Tech]

The horrifying image of a muddy column of oil rushing incessantly from the earth's guts into the deep blue waters of the Gulf is forever branded in my memory. As I watched in disbelief the live video feed from the bottom of the sea, showing the Macondo well vomiting poison into the ocean, week after week, impervious to the incompetent attempts of BP to kill it, there was one question that kept bouncing in my head: how on earth did this happen?

Abrahm Lustgarten, an award-winning environmental journalist and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grant," has the answer. His devastating exposé of BP's abysmal safety record details the role the company played in what is arguably the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Run to Failure, Lustgarten's recent book, deconstructs how the Deepwater Horizon "accident" was decades in the making, how short-sighted managerial decisions led to a culture where rhetoric ("safety remains our number one priority") cloaked sloppy operations for the sake of profit. The story unfolds like a train wreck in slow-motion, from the rise of John Browne as The One inside British Petroleum in the late 1980s to the moment Andrea Fleytas radioed "Mayday!" from a burning platform in the Gulf on the night of April 20, 2010. The conclusion is as damning as it is terrifying: The great 2010 oil spill was the direct result of BP's quick and dirty approach to business. And although it was utterly avoidable, a similar or worse disaster may happen again.

Although Lustgarten divides his book formally into three parts, it makes more sense to think of it in two blocks.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Lustgarten's discussion of the BP disaster, especially the way he highlights the organizational culture that greatly enhanced the likelihood of such a disaster (for example, the tragic explosion at BP's Texas City refinery or the oil spill in Alaska, or the many environmental and worker safety violations given to BP in the years before the Mancodo well explosion and the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon). I was interested in the book's title, which has a special meaning that captures the essence of this dysfunctional organizational culture. Lustgarten wrote a BP series for Propublica, and many earlier bits of this story can be found at the website. However,he puts everything together in this well-written and compelling book. Everyone who wonders what happened and why will find this book useful.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow,I had no idea! I agonized over the big Gulf spill in 2010,watching every day as thousands of gallons of sticky,thick and killing oil billowed out for weeks, but this was NOT an isolated incident.This book outlines in an organized,detailed, easy to understand timeline , a serious systemic failure to follow the rules and best practices for the safe and profitable exploration and production of oil. BP is the major offender but the EPA,OSHA,and Justice Dept. are complicit in the disasters and deaths outlined in the read. Most of the time I read with my jaw dropped. It completely destroyed my illusions of regulation enforcement and oversight. Even the title means something different than I expected. I think I was most disappointed about the abuse of the whistle blowers, who warned the government and BP of the dangers and were thoroughly destroyed. I thought we had "Whistle Blower" protection laws...not in the oil business! This is a must read and will not disappoint. I had my computer handy so I could research the incidents on line and learn more. Fascinating is not a strong enough word nor is anger or outrage but "Run To Failure" is a fair and well researched expose'. I enjoyed every word!
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Format: Hardcover
At one level this book is a great history of the events leading to the disaster in the Gulf; however, its real message is the increasing danger posed by quarterly results driven management management by mandate. Although not highlighted in the book, the way too close relationships forged by former politicians and political administrators is apparent from a deeper read.

The book documents a cultural fixation on short term earnings with little regard towards safety or long term profits. Operating, maintenance and quality control budgets were routinely subverted to the need for reportable earnings. On the north slope it meant neglect or the corrosion management and inspection programs and operating shortcuts in the oilfields. The highly predictable results were higher worker injury rates, pipeline failures and ultimately huge expenses to repair damage that could have been prevented.

Unfortunately today far too many senior managers are slaves to budgets that are driven from the top. It's not just the oil industry, across America you can see examples of how short term cost cutting is sacrificing long term interests. It's not just corporation but schools, governments, utilities and others have allowed the infrastructure to decay to the point of added costs and risks.

An interesting contrast to the culture of BP is our military. Young Marine officers are taught to listen to their non-commissioned officers. The Gunny (Sargent)is one of the most respected members of the Corps. Gen Colin Powell had a great presentation on management in which one of this rules was to believe the people in the field (rather than headquarters) in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
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