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3.4 out of 5 stars7
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 June 1998
This is one of the few Titanic books currently in print which does more than rehash the same old sinking story. Instead, it looks at the reaction of society to the greatest marine tragedy of all time.
The success of Biel's book hinges on his meticulous research and thorough reporting of his findings. One chapter examines how the New York press reported the tragedy in the days following the sinking. Many authors are content to re-state what the New York Times said (accurately reporting that the ship had sunk), and what the New York Sun said (inaccurately reporting "All Saved From Titanic After Collision"). Biel digs deeper, and presents a range of reactions that vary from honest, dedicated journalism to wild speculation.
Biel's also examines how the Titanic affects us to this day. His analysis of Titanic movies such as "A Night to Remember", "Titanic" (1953), and "Raise the Titanic" give the reader a new perspective on these often-overlooked films. More than cinematic re-tellings of the sinking, they reveal the feelings and values of the people who made them.
Although it is not the most exciting of novels, it is a brave work that, like prospectors looking for gold, successfully finds new material in a world of tired, re-hashed, and looked-over facts.
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on 21 October 1996
"Down With the Old Canoe," is a detailed rendering of the
sociological impact of the Titanic disaster, from the time
of her sinking to modern day "enthusiasts."

Harvard educated Biel seems to want to include every tidbit
and piece of trivia he can find on the impact the sinking had
on the day-to-day lives of the worlds populace.

He accurately chronicles the delay in America of women being
given the right to vote; tying that decision into the chivalry
shown by the male victims of the sinking.

No sermon given on the evils of wealth for wealth's sake is
left unmentioned as it pertained to the millionaires who lost
their lives.

Moden day "enthusiasts" and their reasons for being so enamored
of the lost vessel are explored in depth, and make for fascinating
reading.

But Biel, himself, remains aloof from the subject; he never
even attempts to connect, personally, with his subject. In the
final chapters, he reveals that had been his intention: to not
cast his person in the book itself.

That aloofness; that lack of "first-person" gives "Down With
the Old Canoe," a strange dichotomy. At times (especially in
those areas dealing with the modern enthusiasts), is is as
fast and entertaining a read as a current issue of Time, Newsweek
or People magazines. At others, the story Biel attempts to relate
is as dry and dull as attempting to read a term paper.

Titanic afficinados will enjoy this book; others may want the
more thrilling "A Night To Remember."
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on 11 February 2012
How many single moments in history have captured the imagination as universally as the sinking of the Titanic? Everybody knows the bare bones of the story: the iceberg, the unsinkable ship. It's such a singular and devastating example of pride before a fall that it hardly needs further embellishment, so that as the band plays bravely on, one is tempted simply to gawp as the bows rear up and slide beneath the water. And that's fine, except history works the other way round. Reading this book is like watching all the detritus surrounding that catastrophe - the conflicting rumours in its immediate aftermath, the films, the songs, the books - coming fizzing and popping to the surface as the ship itself continues its vertical plunge into the obscurity of legend.
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on 12 January 1999
Steven Biel writes with a detail and depth of knowledge of his subject. The disaster becomes a touchstone for aspects of popular American culture, a prism through which various 20th century concerns are seen, even as Titanic-as-metaphor becomes increasingly mythic and removed from the actual event.
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on 26 March 1998
This was a very good book, although it fails achieve a high score. The text was fairly interesting and the pictures hardly held my interest. Had a few very interesting facts, though.
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on 10 August 1998
This is very interesting and poses some interesting questions. However, British readers should note that it is very US-centric. This is not a book for those who are not already enthusiasts about the Titanic.
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on 7 December 2012
I have just purchased this as an ebook only to find that there are no page numbers. It is useless. A waste of money.
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