Thursday, December 09, 2010

Non-Fiction: Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C. Steffy

If you’re looking for a little light reading or a fun holiday gift, keep looking: Drowning in Oil (McGraw Hill) is not it.

Author Loren C. Steffy is the business columnist at The Houston Chronicle and he’s used all the tools of his trade to file this story before the scores of his journalist brethren, many of whom are likely still scrambling to unravel what looks very much like British Petroleum’s culture of carelessness. As a result, Steffy’s account is not likely to be the most complete on of the BP disaster. It is, however, the first credible and in depth tome on the topic and, for that reason -- as well as Steffy’s deft touch and thorough dealings with the facts he did have available -- make Drowning in Oil worthy of all the attention it is likely to get.

Nor is it simply journalistic canniness that got Steffy to the scene first: in many ways, he was already there when the disaster occurred.
I began covering BP as a columnist for the Houston Chronicle in 2005, after an explosion at its Texas City refinery near Houston killed 15 people and injured hundreds .... I’ve listened to top executives promise change, and I’ve seen the disturbing patterns that emerge across its operations.
Part journalistic corporate profile, part portrait of a disaster, Drowning in Oil makes for fascinating -- and sometimes heartbreaking -- reading. Though the book that will fully conclude this matter has yet to be written, Steffy sets the stage with all the background we’ll need to understand that book when it comes.

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