Date published: May 31, 2011
A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher By Joel Achenbach Simon & Schuster, 288 pp., $25.99
Washington Post reporter Achenbach stayed in the Gulf region long after most reporters covering the 2010 oil spill had left, watching the frenzied but painstakingly slow process of blocking the well. Achenbach calls the spill the Apollo 13 of environmental disasters, "every bit as fascinating as it was horrible." The well's isolation, along with its industry-specific technology, meant that only a small number of engineers were able to work on a solution, often improvising maneuvers for the remote deep-sea vehicles, while a nation and government watched impatiently. Achenbach covers the dramatic day-today progress of these engineers and delves into the shortcuts, unheralded warning and lazy policy that riddled the oil industry's rapid expansion into deep-water wells.