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Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town [Hardcover]

John Welshman
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Mar 2012
In his famous book A Night to Remember, historian Walter Lord described the sinking of the Titanic as 'the last night of a small town'. Now, a hundred years after her sinking, John Welshman reconstructs the fascinating individual histories of twelve of the inhabitants of this tragically short-lived floating town.

They include members of the crew; passengers in First, Second, and Third Class; women and men; adults and children; rich and poor. Among them are a ship's Captain, a Second Officer, an Assistant Wireless Operator; a Stewardess, an amateur military historian, a governess, a teacher, a domestic servant, a mother, and three children. What were their earlier histories? Who survived, and why, and who perished? And what happened to these people in the years after 1912?

Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town answers all these questions and more, while offering a minute-by-minute depiction of events aboard the doomed liner through the eyes of a broad and representative cross-section of those who sailed in her - both those who survived and those who didn't.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199595570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199595570
  • ASIN: 0199595577
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 827,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

The second edition of my Underclass book (2006) was published by Bloomsbury on 10 October 2013.

It includes a new chapter on 'Troubled Families and the Coalition Government', and a revised one on 'Problem Families and the Labour Governments'.

It tries to look at the Coalition Government's initiative on troubled families in light of the reconstruction of the concept of the 'underclass' since the 1880s, in both the UK and the US.

My previous book Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town (Oxford, Oxford University Press, March 2012) was published on 15 March 2012.

The book reconstructs the sinking through the narratives of 12 passengers and crew members. It was historian Walter Lord in A Night to Remember (1955) who described the sinking of the Titanic as 'the last night of a small town'. My book both builds upon and challenges Lord's famous account. First, it re-balances the narrative, covering First, Second, and Third Class; women as well as men; children as well as adults; crew members as well as passengers; and people from countries other than Britain and America. Second, the book offers not just a minute-by-minute depiction of events, but explores themes - the ship's construction, social class, migration, radio - thereby employing and extending the metaphor of a small town.

The book features the stories of both crew and passengers. The featured crew includes the Second Officer; a Stewardess; the young Assistant Wireless Operator; and the Captain of the Carpathia liner. There are eight featured passengers in all - an amateur military historian and governess in First Class; a teacher in Second; a domestic servant and mother in Third; and three children. What were their earlier histories, their hopes and anxieties? Who survived, and why, and who perished? What happened to these people in the years after 1912? And what can we learn from their accounts?

On the centenary of the sinking, it is the individual histories of twelve of the inhabitants of the small town that this book reconstructs. The book employs the rigorous, sceptical approach of the social historian, while at the same time retaining the vividness of the eye-witness account.

I was born in Banbridge, Co-Down, Northern Ireland in 1963, was educated at the Universities of York and Oxford, and am currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Lancaster University.

One previous book was Churchill's Children: The Evacuee Experience in Wartime Britain (Oxford University Press, March 2010) which was based on 13 eye-witness accounts. The narrative opens with the children waiting to leave, highlights their experiences while they were away, and closes with their return home. In between, it shows the varied nature of their experiences, whether they were ones of happiness or sadness, excitement or boredom, resentment or acceptance, love or abuse.

I am the author or editor of five other books on twentieth-century British social history:

Municipal Medicine: Public Health in Twentieth-Century Britain (Peter Lang, 2000)

Witnesses to Change: Families, Learning Difficulties, and History (British Institute of Learning Disabilities, 2005)

Community Care in Perspective: Care, Control, and Citizenship (Palgrave, 2006)

Underclass: A History of the Excluded, 1880-2000 (Continuum, 2006)

From Transmitted Deprivation to Social Exclusion: Policy, Poverty, and Parenting (The Policy Press, 2007, paperback edition 2012).

I am currently working on a book about Malawi, where I lived as a child in the early 1970s. I see the book as a mixture of history; travelogue; and family memoir.




Product Description

Review

As thorough and yet compassionate an account as the disaster is ever likely to have. (Open Letters Monthly)

About the Author

John Welshman is the author or editor of six books on twentieth-century British social history and has held posts at the Universities of Leicester, Oxford, and York. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Lancaster University. His latest book,

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Queen Mary 2 to the Titanic 3 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John Welshman is a respected and well published author and his very readable book traces the last night of the Titanic through twelve individual histories of some of the inhabitants of this tragically short lived floating town; from a senior officer to a young Assistant Wireless Officer and passengers from First, Second and Third Class. Doing so, he provides interesting insights into why those people were on the liner in the first place.
Last May my wife and I sailed across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2. As for many on the Titanic , our journey was both a celebration and an opportunity to stay with relatives in New Jersey and Washington. Complete with our formal, semi formal and elegant casual clothes that we were to wear for evening meals, we were soon installed in our State Room and went to explore the opulence of a vessel as magnificent, if not more so, than was the Titanic.
It was somewhat unnerving as we assembled for emergency drill to remember that like the Queen Mary 2, the Titanic was also reckoned to be the last word in maritime safety. Later, it was also sobering to recall her last night as we sailed over her grave and that of those who died 12,500 feet below. Then, when on the Sunday morning as we joined the Captain's worship I remembered that as the Titanic sank, the ship's orchestra played the old Victorian hymn, "Nearer my God to Thee."
As the centenary of this tragic maritime disaster is commemorated, a number of powerful human themes are picked up in Welshman's excellent book which portrays a very different picture from the romance and disaster of many films and other publications. From the accounts he captures, he provides a fascinating story - and a first rate book at an excellent price - not to be missed in 2012.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new 12 April 2012
Format:Hardcover
As the 100th anniversary approaches, there have been a number of books with new information previously unseen. Unfortunately, Last Night in a Small Town is put together with the help of other books and easily accessible online resources. Since much of what is found in this book is taken from other books, what was the point of this book? There are 2200 plus passengers and crew to chose from so I would think that an author would avoid the trap of telling stories that have been told elsewhere. The more successful Titanic books are from authors who talk to families, dig through newspaper/museum archives, etc. If you are very new to the Titanic story, this work is fine. However, it would be recommended that you should buy the original books the author used to put this piece together.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a wise purchase 13 April 2012
By Jennifer Bankier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I agree with the negative reviewers. Based on the author's own comments at the end of the book, this appears to be a close paraphrase of the works of several survivors or their relatives. How did an academic press miss this? There is no exploration of the theme suggested by the title (which led me to buy the book) of how interactions within Titanic resembled a small town.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Look elsewhere! 16 April 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be poorly organized, with random excursions into obscure and hardly significant technicalities like United States immigration policy and a discussion of early radio telegraphy communications inserted at random spots within the book with no seeming relevance to the material immediately preceding or following it. Toward the close, the author ventures into a book review of Walter Lord's iconic A Night To Remember to no seeming constructive purpose, then does the same for the movie and 1950's TV presentation of the same name. All in all, very disappointing. There are good stories here, but I am confident that they can be learned elsewhere in a much less disjointed and disorganized fashion as there seems to be little of real new research contained in this book. A Night To Remember is an infinitely superior introduction to the subject.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new 12 April 2012
By Michael Poirier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As the 100th anniversary approaches, there have been a number of books with new information previously unseen. Unfortunately, Last Night in a Small Town is put together with the help of other books and easily accessible online resources. Since much of what is found in this book is taken from other books, what was the point of this book? There are 2200 plus passengers and crew to chose from so I would think that an author would avoid the trap of telling stories that have been told elsewhere. The more successful Titanic books are from authors who talk to families, dig through newspaper/museum archives, etc. If you are very new to the Titanic story, this work is fine. However, it would be recommended that you should buy the original books the author used to put this piece together.
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire 2 Sep 2012
By C. Connor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Why on earth did OUP publish this?
What purports to be 'new' is actually a re-hash of existing material available elsewhere and Welshman has nothing new to say. It could have been an excellent thought provoking 'microhistory' revealing something about the unknown folk on the voyage presented in an interesting way. Instead we get a 'commercial' coffee table book being published by a reputable academic publisher trying to cash in on the 'Titanic' cash-cow. OUP you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading 20 Jun 2012
By P. Goldsmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Titanic: The last night of a Small Town is a very good read. Especially since it contains information about some of my family members. Well done.
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