This book is a reference text, not meant for casual or technical reading but rather as a guide or source of inquiry. There are four chapters, an appendix, reference list, and subject index. The volume is handsomely produced with a sturdy binding and hard cover. The cover design is, however, somewhat perplexing. Clearly shown is a beach with surface contamination by a petroleum product that has washed ashore. Dramatic in its own right and enough to convey the message of what oil spills can look like on beaches, there is for some reason almost transparent text overlying the image. Although a minor point of contention in a book review, one might wonder what the graphic artist was thinking as I only accidently noticed the text that in some cases is almost illegible as it merges with the background colors in the photo.
Chapter 1, by Yejun Wu, covers the methodology used in the book and serves as an introduction that briefly introduces content and the way that each chapter is organized. This is most useful to the reader as the book is essentially a compilation of lists. This first chapter is mandatory reading to get an idea of the scope of the subject and to understand the way that oil spills, a complex subject in itself, are treated in the book. Skipping this chapter would be a mistake and would probably lead to some level of confusion if just flipping through the book to get an idea of content.
Chapter 2, by Judith Sylvester, is entitled Deepwater Horizon Circle of Life and Death. The chapter is a chronological summary of major events associated with the disastrous oil spill from a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The explosion and fire aboard British Petroleum's (BP's) Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig killed 11 men, but the other 115 employees working on the rig were evacuated safely. The events summarized from 20 April through 19 September emphasize the complicated nature and scope of the disaster. Although this is a chronological log of events, after perusal of the list one quickly appreciates the controversial nature of containment and the number of governmental agencies involved.
Chapter 3, by Yejun Wu, David J. Dunaway, and Amanda Lehman, is called Oil Spill Taxonomy. There is no text per se, just long lists. This would be tedious for most readers, and one has to know what they are doing or have a specific search item in mind. The organizational structure of the lists indicates the contents, and the main sections are as follows: (A) Oil Spill Incidents (Focusing on Attributes); (B) Coastal and Offshore Environments (Natural Environments, Geology); (C) Oil, Dispersants, and Other Chemicals Extent and Fate; (D) Oil and Dispersant Impacts on Human Health and Living Resources; (E) Impacted Wildlife (Specific Species, Plants, and Animals); (F) Oil and Dispersant Impacts and Mitigation on Socioeconomic Systems; (G) Disaster Research Planning and Preparedness Using In Situ and Remote Sensor Sampling and Systems and Other Measures; (H) Disaster Responses; (I) Political, Administrative, and Legal Issues; (J) Organizations and Persons; (K) Time; and (L) Locations (Geographical). Organization of this chapter shows the breadth and scope of coverage and indicates why using lists is a sound approach vs. expository writing. This is extremely useful information that is categorized in a thoughtful manner for easy access and use.
Chapter 4, by Yejun Wu, Amanda Lehman, and David J. Dunaway, is called Oil Spill Topic Map: Concepts, Relationships, and References. This chapter is fortunately organized like the preceding chapter, making for easy recognition of topics and therefore familiar access. The information contained here is exceedingly useful and will no doubt be frequently referenced by those involved in the various tasks associated with oil-spill disaster cleanup and remediation at all levels.
The Appendix is brief (pages 265–269) but contains useful information regarding conferences and conference reports, journals, newspapers and radio, organizations, and other sources. Perhaps surprising are the large number of professional journals that address aspects of oil spills. Access to this list will save researchers valuable time and give a jump start to those newly involved with oil spills.
For those involved with oil spills in the coastal marine environment, this book is an essential reference. The amount of time and experience that went into its compilation must have been enormous. The book should thus be flagged as a must have for those charged with dealing with aspects of oil spills, whether working in government and private industry. The Deep Horizon incident is ample proof that such a book was much needed in 2010. Thanks to the efforts of these tireless researchers, considerable information has been collated in a useful manner. This book is thus highly recommended as an essential, practical guide for addressing oil-spill impacts.