Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing story about Bruce Ismay
I read it with great interest because it shows some points of Ismays life I didn't know before!'
Ismay was not as bad as people said.
Published 13 months ago by Gertrud Schmidt

versus
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with factual errors
My views on this book are decidedly mixed. On the one hand, it is both deftly and intelligently written. Wilson has a great narrative style, which moves at a cracking pace, and this does much to immerse the reader in the story of that terrible night in 1912, and its impact on J. Bruce Ismay himself. Meditative and thought-provoking by turns, it succeeds in exploring a...
Published on 2 Sep 2011 by M. Williams


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing story about Bruce Ismay, 31 May 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
I read it with great interest because it shows some points of Ismays life I didn't know before!'
Ismay was not as bad as people said.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "new take" on the Titanic, 2 Sep 2011
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
It's almost 2012 and we're heading towards the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the "Titanic". Almost everything that can be written about the Boat vs Iceberg has been written in the past century. British historian Frances Wilson, in her brilliant new book, "How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J Bruce Ismay", has found a new angle on the disaster. She looks at Bruce Ismay - is he a passenger or is he an officer - the owner of the "Titanic" who sets off on her maiden voyage and survives the sinking and, loses himself in the process.

Wilson combines fictional history with actual history and compares Joseph Conrad's tragic figure of "Lord Jim" with Ismay. Even if you haven't read "Lord Jim" - and I had not - Wilson's writing about the two men, each afflicted with the guilt of survival, is beautiful. Ismay, an aloof man, has very little emotional contact with his family or his business associates. He is a loner; a successful man in business who lives within his own mind in every other part of his life. He survives the sinking by another twenty or so years, but having successfully staved off death, he lives the rest of his life knowing that the survival carries a taint of dishonor. Why did he live when 1500 others died on a ship that did not carry enough life boats to save everybody on the ship? The lack of lifeboats was the result of a directive from Bruce Ismay who considered the "Titanic" to be "unsinkable" and the extra lifeboats to be "unslightly". Wilson writes about the testimony Ismay, members of the crew, and survivors gave in hearings in New York, Washington, and London.

Wilson's writing is exquisite. She combines history, literature, and a healthy dose of psychology in a wonderful addition to the collection of "Titanic" books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Centre of His Own Story, 17 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
'Always awkwardly positioned....He is never at the centre of his own story.' Frances Wilson puts this right and gives us a full account of J.Bruce Ismay.

Having read Beesley, Gracie, Lightoller on the Titanic (Don't you prefer the 'the'? Seems much more natural to me), I had no plans to read more on the story, but the enthusiastic reviews for Frances Wilson's book persuaded me. The praise is warranted too. I notice there is Guardian workshop for writing biography led by Ms Wilson and I would love to go. However, 500 in the current economy is a bit much for us steerage class passengers. Probably, it is not necessary as her Ismay book is a masterclass in itself in good biography.

Although Ismay is depicted with brutal clarity, there is a gentleness to the author's writing style that avoids judgment. I will pass 'How to Survive' to my daughter, when I'm done with it. She is fascinated by the story, like so many, and I am sure she will appreciate the excellence of this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and humane, 10 Sep 2011
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
Frances Wilson's book offers a convincing and finely nuanced analysis of one man's personality and reputation. The book did challenge my own preconceptions concerning Ismay's moral status, and "How to survive the Titanic" will stay in my mind for a long time. It is easy to be prejudiced against Ismay, and Wilson succeeds in asking us to look again. I enjoyed the book a great deal.

However to my mind it contains one serious flaw. If Ismay's moral status is the issue then it is surprising to me that very little was said about Thomas Andrews. Like Ismay, Andrews (as one of the 3 designers of the Titanic) was responsible for the ship, and unlike Ismay, Andrews accepted that this responsiblity obliged him to stay out of the lifeboats, and choose death. If Andrews felt honourably obliged to die in this way, then we need to know why Ismay didn't. Andrews chose the fate that Ismay was criticised for not choosing. To my mind Andrews' decision is central to the question of how we judge Ismay.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with factual errors, 2 Sep 2011
By 
M. Williams - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
My views on this book are decidedly mixed. On the one hand, it is both deftly and intelligently written. Wilson has a great narrative style, which moves at a cracking pace, and this does much to immerse the reader in the story of that terrible night in 1912, and its impact on J. Bruce Ismay himself. Meditative and thought-provoking by turns, it succeeds in exploring a refreshing new angle on an oft-told tale.

However, much of the good work is hopelessly - and I mean, hopelessly - undone by a litany of factual errors, mis-captioned illustrations and really appalling editing. To highlight just three painful examples; 'Lord' Duff Gordon was not a 'lord' at all, but a baronet. The plans for the 'Olympic' trio were conceived in Belgrave Square, Belgravia, not in Berkeley Square, Mayfair. And John B. Thayer was the Second Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, not the (nonexistent) 'Philadelphia Railroad'. In fairness to the author, many of these errors will only be obvious to serious 'Titanic' historians. Nevertheless, the correct information is quite easily obtainable, in both the primary and secondary sources which Wilson (presumably) consulted, and there is absolutely no excuse for such sloppiness. One can only ask oneself how she contrived to get some things so wrong. Did her computer crash at the last minute, causing her to re-constitute her material from memory? Was her initial note-taking at fault? Or was her publisher simply cutting corners? Whatever the reason, it is a great pity that basic facts were not checked more thoroughly, for the cumulative effect of this deplorable carelessness is a fatal undermining of a potentially excellent biographical study.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rare thing - a readable book about Titanic, 30 Aug 2011
By 
Eric (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
Rather giving us her interpretation of events on Titanic, Ms Wilson relates several versions of the key moments, each taken from a different witness. By doing so, she conveys the impossibility of knowing what really happened that night more successfully than any other author I know of. She does not give an opinion on whether Ismay jumped, stepped or was pushed into a lifeboat - perhaps because it is immaterial. The result was always going to be the same: Ismay was both saved and lost.

Ms Wilson explores Ismay's character throught his life and letters and through the literary landscape of the time. As a result there are lots of fascinating nuggets relating to this wider context which are not the usual fare of Titanic books. There are a few (minor) bloomers, and the coincidences of Conrad's Lord Jim take perhaps too much of the stage, but it is nevertheless a very enjoyable book. It brings much new material - and although this does not shed new light on the events of the night, it does help our understanding of why we are still interested in this ship above all others 100 years on. And she comes to a profound conclusion about why this dull man continues to fascinate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sympathy for Bruce Ismay, 1 Jan 2012
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
I treated myself to this book for Christmas as, probably like many other people I had always thought of Bruce Ismay as the coward who escaped from the Titanic. However, having read this I have changed my view. He was just an ordinary man caught up in a horrific situation and who can say what any of us would have done. Many other men escaped that night and were not villified as he was. Maybe he also thought his evidence would be vital at a later date.
Frances Wilson makes him out to be a lonely figure, poor at dealing with people and to me he even sounded a bit autistic....but that might be 2012 sensibilities. I think there were other people as guilty as him, particularly those in the lifeboats who didn't go back, apparently most people in the water took 4 hours to die.
This book has also introduced me to the wonderful work of Joseph Conrad.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good book, 8 April 2013
By 
Psychogran (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
I thought I knew all about the Titanic (my grandson is an expert!). This book is a sensitive and thoughtful biography, but throws light on the progress of sociology and industry of the early 20th century. The author has a keen eye for some of the fudges and misconceptions that have grown around the whole story of the Titanic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 5 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
Very interesting new angle on the Titanic. If you are interested in the Titanic this is a good book to read. The price it was offered at was an absolute steal.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DIFFERENT ANGLE ON THE TITANIC, 27 Sep 2012
This review is from: How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book,although J.Bruce Ismay has been a character in the sinking of the Titanic,I knew little about him apart from what happened on that eventful April night in 1912. Frances Wilson writes well abut Ismay's pre-1912 life, and the up-bringing that affected his outlook and manner. She also incorporates Joseph Conrad, and Lord Jim into the book very well,ironically a manuscript from Joseph Conrad is in the hold of The Titanic. I found the character of Ismay sad,he never seemed to have a great zest for life before the event, and afterwards even less so. I found that it was interesting that eventually he came to the conclusion that he the apologist for The Titanic,the survivor that would tell everyone what happened,but he became the epitome for cowardice, and all that was wrong with the ruling classes of Britain in the early 20th century.
I t was an enjoyable book that shed light on a further aspect of The Sinking Of The Titanic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay
How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson (Hardcover - 15 Aug 2011)
18.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews