Abandoned Ship: An intimate account of the Costa Concordia shipwreckby Benji Smith
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On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia -- a thousand foot long luxury cruise ship, twice the size of the Titanic -- ventured into shallow water and smashed into the rocks of a tiny island off the coast of Italy, throwing the four thousand passengers and crew members into a state of chaos. The captain and officers all abandoned ship, leaving the few remaining castaways to fend for themselves as the boat toppled onto its side and water flooded into the passenger decks.
In the wee hours of the night, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau feared for their lives, desparate and terrified after a malfunctioning lifeboat left them stranded on the sinking ship. By this point, the other lifeboats had all gone. They had been left behind.
This thoughtful memoir -- hailed by The Daily Telegraph as "a compelling, minute-by-minute account of the chaotic evacuation" -- tells the remarkable story of the couple's harrowing escape, as they clung to a rope and rapelled down the hull of the doomed vessel.
But the astonishing story continues, as they find themselves stranded in Rome and ignored by the United States Embassy. With only the clothes on their backs, they relied upon the kindness of strangers to help them find food and shelter, clothing and medical attention. And finally a ticket home.
But even then, in the safety of their own home, they would find their sleep haunted by nightmares and their days crippled by anxiety and insecurity. And even as they struggled to overcome PTSD, they would simultaneously find themselves in a battle with the news media to even have their story told.
Praised by Newsweek/The Daily Beast for its "honest reflection and frightening detail", this gripping, triumphant story is ultimately a spiritual tale, the story of a pair of survivors who find hope and meaning in the aftermath of a tragedy.
- Benji Smith
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Meet the Author
Benji Smith lives in Boston with his wife Emily Lau and their household of cats and dogs.
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I remember when the Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy. I remember seeing the picture of the liner laying on its side in the water. I remember being stunned that a ship that size would sink in today's world. But as I am not an avid news watcher, I never paid that much attention to the details of the disaster. I heard vague reports of either alcohol or drug use by the captain or the helmsman...or whoever drives one of those cruise liners. I won this book in a First Reads giveaway and had it for a couple of weeks before I got around to starting it. Once I did the pages just flew. Benji Smith gives an account of the disaster from a passenger's viewpoint in clear and concise language. I felt like I was there with passengers as they struggled to escape the sinking vessel. I breathed a sigh of relief when they finally were off the side of the ship and into a rescue boat. But then a strange thing happened. The book kept going and I discovered that the sinking cruise liner was only the beginning of the troubles for Benji and his new bride Emily. The rest of the book is the true heart of the story. What came after was an odyssey of indifference and annoyance from the very people that are supposed to help when a tragedy occurs. I'm sorry that Benji and Emily had to go through what they did, but by telling their story perhaps changes will be made. Maybe we'll start to hold people accountable for their lack of humanity. Maybe I'm just an optimist and you can't fight the system, but I believe if enough people hear this story then change is possible. I wish everyone could read this book.
This book was a big disappointment. The writers appear to write this book to self promote. I saw the authors on TV and the account of the details written in the book differ from what they said on TV. I am not quite sure of their real story. I would not buy this book.
Very good book detailing the wreck and what this family of survivors had to endure to get home. I could have done without the frequent reminders the author/survivor was an atheist and it somewhat turned me off.
It just shows the things that company reallly put above the wealfsre
This book was a big disappointment and not very professionally written. I am very sorry I purchased it. These authors seem quite self involved and are trying to make some money off a tragic event. I wonder about the accuracy of the some of the events they write about.
This book is a suffering recount of the Concordia sinking and how it deeply affected passengers. The book was well written and easy to follow. Its message clearly records the gross negligence of crew members and the hardship experiences during the emergency evacuation of this enormous sinking ship. It is a riveting account.