Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What sunk the Titanic?, 3 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book.

I was fascinated as Richard Davenport-Hines set the infamous maiden voyage in its historical and cultural context.

Far from being a dull list as one reviewer would have it the book interestingly begins with the "life" of the fateful iceberg and then carefully moves on to reveal the race at the beginning of the 20th century to produce bigger, faster and grander steam ships, although, he notes, they were largely crewed by men trained in sail power and pretty much universally set to sea with fewer lifeboats than would be needed in case of disaster. It wasn't just the Titanic. In fact the Titanic carried more than the officially designated number for a ship of its size, and anyway it was said she was so sturdy and unsinkable she was herself just one big lifeboat.

Davenport-Hines beautifully sets the scene as commission hungry shipping line agents sold the American dream to potential immigrants who clamoured for the promised land, only to be met with harshness and scarcely hidden racism at Ellis Island. He compares this to the lives of the first class passengers and their snobbery - inherited wealth looking down upon new found wealth, and the second class, with men running away with their mistresses. In second class he tells the story of the only black passenger on the ship, with his white wife and their children, all looking for a new start in a more open-minded land, as well as a Japanese priest who would survive the disaster but be fired from the church for the shame of doing so.

My one criticism (and the only thing preventing 5 stars) would be that the author covers perhaps too many of the people on board and so we are sometimes only given scant detail of their lives and reasons for heading to New York. But that is really only a minor point. We still learn plenty of the lives of people like the millionaire Astor's, Lord and Lady Duff-Gordon, and Archie Butt, the aide to President Taft, and his "best-friend", the artist Francis Millett, who, before they went down with the ship, lived together in a house with red and pink rose wallpaper and a staff of Filipino boys (and nobody thought to guess - innocent times indeed).

After the people on board were brought to life I thought it reiterated the ultimate event as a real human tragedy. The touching piece on how a thirteen year old boy was hidden below the skirts of women in a lifeboat, only to be forcibly removed at gun-point by an officer insisting on women and children first, was particularly vivid. The boy, who although new to being a teenager was obviously deemed to be a man, lay on the deck, sobbing into his hands and assigned to his fate as the women were lowered on the lifeboat with nearly half the spaces completely empty. Many of them were never able to shake that memory and Davenport-Hines touches upon the aftermath of the disaster - not only how it shocked the world, but how it effected the mental state of those who survived.

I came away realising that it wasn't just the iceberg that sank the Titanic, but the culture that said men must die like men and women were fragile creatures that needed male protection. We believed that your social standing counted for more than your deeds and imposed rigid codes of social etiquette, employed casual racism and held an unshakeable belief in our ability to conquer nature and the power of industry. So much so that even as the ship was buckling in two and people were clinging to the railings to prevent them from sliding down the deck, some still believed the Titanic couldn't go down.

Perhaps the sinking of the Titanic had to happen to snap the human race out of its self-important daydream, just in time for the Great War to smash it altogether.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Nov 2012 22:12:43 GMT
Great review. I agree with every word!
‹ Previous 1 Next ›