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How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408828154
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408828151
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Beautifully written, and beautifully deconstructed (Sunday Times)

A gripping study - part reportage, part biography, part literary criticism - of the more intimate ramifications of a disaster which still haunts the public imagination (Sunday Telegraph)

Wonderfully rich and multi-layered ... Full of fascinating details ... It is one of the few works of recent non-fiction that would benefit from a second, or even a third reading. Every sentence crackles with intelligence (Mail on Sunday)

Masterful and timely (Daily Telegraph)

An unusual and creative book ... in the end, the subject of this fascinating book is not just historical or biographical uncertainty, but psychological and moral ambiguity (Guardian)

Wilson's biography is beautifully written and beautifully constructed (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The strange and fascinating story of the owner of the Titanic, J. Bruce Ismay, the man who jumped ship

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Cowan on 29 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contains some interesting information about Ismay's attitude to the sinking but presents no new details to confirm exactly what action was or was not taken by him on that night of disaster. The book also has a great reliance on long quoted passages from 'Lord Jim' by Joseph Conrad. All in all not the most informative read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By avidreader on 20 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is so tedious and hard to get through - don't waste your time. The author is clearly one of those
academics in love with the sound of her own voice and enamoured of long quotations (easier than coming
up with her own decent prose, right?). I was deeply unimpressed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Horne on 19 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
I thought this was really boring and couldn't engage with the characters. I guess this was one of the frogs you have to kiss ...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cornwallgurl on 2 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the reviews of this, heard bits on Radio 4, and in honour of the Centenary, had just re-read Walter Lord's seminal work "A Night to Remember". I was going on holiday, so downloading this book seemed a logical follow-on. It really could have been a good book, but so many irritants precluded this. Very early on there was reference to "Lord" & Lady Duff Gordon - there are articles all over the internet on Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon & his wife - either the editor or the author just slipped up, but it made subsequent facts harder to believe. J Bruce Ismay was a fascinating subject, in today's parlance clearly a very "damaged" personality (or perhaps just plain unpleasant). The author seems undecided. I did seriously wonder if she had chosen him as a subject merely to be able to write a literary treatise on the comparisons with Conrad's Lord Jim. While it didn't put me off reading it (like many I just skipped through it, despite having been unable to stomach Conrad - gave up on the Shadow Line many years ago and was warned off Nostromo & Typhoon by my mother, who was commanded to read them by her father) it didn't significantly add anything to the so-called biography of Ismay.

The author had done a lot of research into Ismay himself, his family, his connections and the enquiries, the material on which was interesting, although (like them) no real conclusions were drawn from them or Ismay's behaviour at them. Ismay's behaviour was weird to the point of deranged, and his subsequent shunning by society was not altogether surprising. Indeed the author does not really plead a case for him. How much more illuminating it would have been to have arranged the book in chronological order. Presenting his early life well into the book just seemed perverse.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Aug. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
J. Bruce Ismay was the managing director and chairman of the White Star Line, the company that built the Titanic. Ismay was on board and had seen a warning about ice sent from the Baltic, but went to bed after dinner apparently unconcerned. When the collision occurred at 11:40pm Ismay awoke and went to the bridge. One of a handful of people on board who realised the ship would sink he failed to warn his secretary, valet, dining companion or others of the danger. However, he did help load the lifeboats on the starboard side and was helping load Collapsible C, one of the four life rafts when he claimed, "I helped everybody into the boat that was there, and, as the boat was being lowered away, I got in." On this one action, Ismay was judged by the media as a coward. There were conflicting reports in the confusion - that Ismay was ordered to go, that he was virtually thrown into the boat by an officer, that he left on the first boat, that women already in the boat begged him to accompany them or that he was pressured to leave by members of the crew or the Captain. Ismay himself claimed he only took a seat when no women were there to take a place before him, but his actions were a defining moment in his life. William E. Carter, an American polo-playing millionaire, jumped into Collapsible C at the same time as Ismay and also claimed the deck was deserted and both men got into the lifeboat only after checking no women were there. However, Carter also claimed his wife and children had already left the ship and later, his wife Lucille, sued for divorce claiming he had deserted her and her children to their fate. Other passengers claimed there was pandemonium around the boat and that Ismay pushed his way on.Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SAP VINE VOICE on 26 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't know which planet these people, who criticise this book as a character assassination, come from! Have they even read the book? I can only doubt that they have. This book isn't anti-Ismay in the slightest. It is sympathetic towards him and its conclusion is, if there is one, that whatever he did, and no one knows, and no one can ever know, he was only acting as a human being, so he shouldn't be judged by people who haven't themselves been tested in a stressful, life-or-death situation. It reminds me a little of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. Whicher is a little earlier, but they both dissect one 'case' and use this as a hub to explore further afield in contemporary literature and society, etc. They also delve into one man's psyche and see what they can discover. This is compelling and excellently written.
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