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A Sea In Flames    by Carl Safina order for
Sea In Flames
by Carl Safina
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

It has been over a year since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Over 4.9 million barrels polluted the waters and did unimaginable ecological and economic harm to the entire region that was unprecedented in history.

A number of books have been written about the disaster and, undoubtedly, there are still more to come. One of the most critical of both the government and private sector's response to the spill is this volume written by Carl Safina, the founding president of Blue Ocean Institute.

As one would expect, Safina looks at the events that caused the deep water well to fail, the technological, biological and emotional responses during the months the well could not be capped, and the aftermath of the catastrophe once the flow was stopped.

As the author explains in the preface, this book is 'not a definitive treatise; it's a portrait.' And, as such, it looks at the human toll as well as the damage done to habitats.

At times Safina makes no attempt to mask his anger at the mistakes made and the lack of foresight that led to the spill, but then there are other instances where he tries to temper his emotion and understand why people acted and responded as they did.

He admits that it's easy to criticize people in charge and 'it's much harder to be the person in charge' - hence, in retrospect, some of his harsh criticisms were mitigated over time.

So, as you read this book, don't forget these words which also appear at the beginning of the narrative. Safina writes, 'In trying my best to get it right, I am sure that nearly all of what I've written is reasonable, most of it is true, and some of it is wrong. It's not less than that, and not more.'

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