I wrote this letter last year, on the plane ride home from Italy, just a few days after Emily and I escaped the Costa Concordia shipwreck. I didn’t have a laptop or an iPad — those had both gone down with the ship and were submerged under a hundred feet of frigid sea water — so I wrote with a pen and paper, scratching in the margins and making notes, crossing out phrases and rewriting until I was happy with the result.
Over the next few weeks, I tried (unsuccessfully) to get the letter published as an op-ed in the New York Times and in the Boston Globe. Both papers rejected it, so I included it in chapter 55 of my memoir Abandoned Ship. But it actually just occurred to me this morning that I could publish it here on my website as a way of truly making this an “open letter.” After all, I’ve also included chapter one of Abandoned Ship for free on this website. Why not also include this op-ed?
The failure of the United States Embassy to help its own citizens was a fact maddeningly absent from most of the press coverage during the first year after the shipwreck, however I’m happy to report that the embassy failures finally got some reasonable press coverage around the one-year anniversary of the shipwreck, starting with this article in The Daily Beast written by Barbie Latza Nadeau. As far as I know, she’s the first mainstream institutional reporter to ask serious questions about the embassy response, and she’s certainly the first journalist who went back to the embassy and pressed them for a statement.
Anyhow, here’s the op-ed, exactly as originally written to the NYT and the Globe, and as published in my book: