Must read e-book: Fatal Voyage, the Wrecking of the Costa Concordia

Looking for a relaxing read en route to your cruise? Then don’t buy Fatal Voyage, The Wrecking of the Costa Concordia, a Kindle Singles e-book that takes an in-depth look at the modern day Titanic.

Written by journalist John Hooper, the e-book covers one of the worst passenger ship disaster since the Titanic in engaging detail. Numerous interviews with survivors describe plates falling as the ship’s two-story dining room listed, the dark passageways where passengers crawled to reach an outside deck, the confusion around the lifeboats as the crew, acting without clear orders from above, tried to maintain control.

Hooper’s experience as a Rome-based reporter for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper stands him in good stead. The book contains details about the sinking that never made the U.S. coverage, including the Italians’ collective embarrassment around one of their own, Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino.As you’d expect, much of the story does center around Schettino, and his unbelievable series of bad decisions. Hooper notes that the call to “salute” the island of Giglio came out of nowhere, as the retired captain that Schettino meant to fete wasn’t even there at the time. And he also captures the feeling of pride that Italians felt when transcripts revealed that Coast Guard Captain Gregorio De Falco had ordered Schettino to get back on his boat. No wonder that T-shirts reading “Vada a bordo, cazzo!” (get on board, dick) became top sellers.

The rush to publish does highlight the e-book’s faults. Hooper’s e-book, which reads more like a long-form magazine article, came out on Feb. 15, just a little over a month from the Jan. 13 sinking. As a reader, I wanted even more details from the survivors than Hooper collected. Every passenger who lived through that night has a chilling tale to tell, and while the examples that Hooper picked were jaw-dropping, I had more questions than answers when I finished the book.

But hey, what do you expect for $1.99? Hooper continues to cover the fallout from the Costa Concordia tragedy for the Guardian. If and when he releases a longer, more detailed version of what exactly happened on the ship that night, I’ll be hitting the download button.

Travel writer Chris Gray Faust covers value luxury vacations on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World.