El Faro, a 790-foot container ship, sank in 2015 off the coast of the Bahamas in Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 people on board died. It was the greatest American maritime disaster in 40 years, and the ship’s final hours were captured in remarkable detail on the ship’s voyage data recorder, a nautical black box. “The transcript of these conversations, as well as (one-sided) electronic communications among the captain, mates, engineers, able seamen and people ashore, runs to 500 pages,” Douglas Preston writes in his review of Rachel Slade’s“Into the Raging Sea.” “It is the most detailed live record of a maritime disaster ever created — and what a story it tells.”


Recommended by John Podkowski