Scottish Review of Books Review: Fire in the Night
Unlocking the silence at the heart of personal and public tragedy is an undertaking fraught with risks and the reader, weary of journalistic sloganeering, might be forgiven for groaning at the subtitle of this documentary study of the Piper Alpha Disaster: “the terrifying story of the world’s worst offshore oil catastrophe”. The aim of the book, as Stephen McGinty states in the epilogue, is to provide an “accessible account” of the events that took place between 10pm and midnight during the explosions on the Piper Alpha platform. In this sense, Fire In The Night does its job, offering a meticulously researched yet eminently readable piece of narrative. The reader is offered useful overviews of the oil industry, the technicalities of oil drilling and the historical, political and geological contexts of oil excavation. Some crucial insights into the nefarious negotiations of the British government when oil was first located in the North Sea are also provided as well as a portrait of Armand Hammer, controller of the multinational oil company, Occidental. The bulk of the narrative though is concerned with reconstructing the drama of the disaster as it happened and McGinty effectively conveys the full extent of the panic, devastation and loss of human life that ensued during the hours between 10pm and midnight on 6 July 1988.
- Hardback - Macmillan
The Piper Alpha disaster remains to this day the world's worst offshore oil disaster. 'Fire in the Night' tells the devastating story of the night of 6 July 1988, when 167 workers perished as fire broke out on the rig.