The last two books I read got me really into ships so when I was done with them, I longed for more. This “book about the Titanic” as I’ve been calling it is one I’ve had for awhile that I got in an Audible sale so I decided it would be a good follow-up ship book. I am ashamed to admit that the extent of my Titanic knowledge before reading this book was only what the movie done by James Cameron “taught” me. I remember seeing that movie with my parents when I was maybe just out of high school and I sobbed for hours, knowing it had really happened. There was no lack of emotion while reading this book, that’s for sure. The stories of the men, women and children weren’t fictional. There was no Kate Winslett watching Leonardo DiCaprio sink into the abyss. There was a story however, of a mother basically doing the exact same thing with her sons who had helped her into a life boat and then were too cold and fatigued to climb in themselves. How incredibly gut wrenching.
That’s what this book is. Stories about the actual people involved, from first class to third class with no focusing on just the rich people. Did you know there was a second class? I certainly didn’t. I always thought the Titanic passengers were the super rich or super poor but there were people in between, too.
I never knew there had been a coal strike during the time of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. In the beginning of the book we learn of passengers and crew who were diverted to the Titanic because of the coal strike stopping other ships from sailing. There was an instance of demotions and such leading to a man being transferred to a different ship, the problem being that he had the key to the locker where the binoculars were stored. There is no telling if the use of binoculars would have alerted the lookout to the iceberg sooner, but the book mentions plenty of things that could have prevented what happened.
The Marconi operator for example, who got so behind on wire messages due to first class passengers sending personal messages, that he didn’t send ice warnings from other ships to the bridge in time. That just made me shake my head.
The beginning of the book goes into detail about the ship’s construction and gives many stats, even down to the number of teacups on board. There were comments from passengers from all the classes, nearly all of them marveling on the beauty of the ship and how you didn’t even know you were on the water it was so smooth. Too bad beauty and tea cups and silver couldn’t keep it from sinking.
The second half of the book really picks up, going into detail about how the ship side swiped the iceberg, which was worse than if it had hit head on. If only that man hadn’t thrown the ship into reverse to try to change course…
The gut wrenching descriptions of the filling of the life boats was really hard to listen to. The stories all came from personal accounts of the survivors. Women leaving husbands and sons, oh it just makes your heart break. The fact that the life boats weren’t even filled to capacity when there already weren’t enough to save everyone was absolutely horrifying. When a husband was told he couldn’t join his pregnant wife and then the boat was lowered only half full…horrible, just horrible.
The book doesn’t stop after the ship sinks. It details the aftermath. Turns out nothing much has changed when it comes to the media. Reporters were giving incorrect facts just like they do today. They actually said the ship sank but none were lost! I was astounded. We often talk today about how journalistic ethics are dead. Were they really there to begin with? There were also the attention seekers flaming they knew someone on board when they really didn’t. It all reminded me of the stuff that goes on on Twitter. I suppose it’s human nature and not just the fact that we’re so advanced technologically. It made me sad to hear, especially people saying God punished the passengers because the Titanic was so glorious and rich. Um, have you seen the Vatican? It’s like the people today that say God punishes places hit by natural disasters. It just makes me sad.
I’m getting off topic. I’m so glad I read this book. I feel much more educated on the Titanic than I was before, that’s for sure. The book clears a lot of things up and explains the truth of the matter of things like whether third class passengers were really locked behind gates.
I lost it during the story of a female survivor who wore two wedding rings, her own and the one a man asked her to give to his wife, since he knew he would die. There were stories of some of the survivors who were driven insane by their ordeal, some taking their own lives, an astonishing number dying on anniversaries of the sinking. Tears.
I’ve written a lot. I was just incredibly moved by this book. Either the narrator is just a good voice actor, or he was effected too. There were times I thought I heard emotion in his voice. I think it would have been really difficult to read this book out loud. My favorite quote, during the telling of the passengers finding out the ship had been hit, the third class were quick to believe the danger while the first class shrugged it off in the beginning.
Rich men were more resistant than the poor to believing life could go smash.
Rating: So good!