When Erich Krauss first emerged from a jungle trek in Thailand last December, he was unaware of the deadly tsunami spawned in the Indian Ocean a day earlier. A freelance writer with close ties to the Asian nation, Krauss got involved in local relief efforts before making his way to a remote coastal village that had been hit particularly hard. Recounting the story of four families before, during, and after the cataclysmic event that claimed more than 230,000 lives is an ambitious, even commendable endeavor. But Wave of Destruction frequently disappoints with flat, inexpressive prose and constantly shifting, overly episodic narratives. Still, the book has enough moments of pure drama and tragedy — the most heartbreaking occur after the waters recede — to give voice to the lucky (and unlucky) souls who survived this new century’s worst natural disaster.