Top positive review
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Ambitious project, light & easy to read. Production of book now OK.
on 2 February 2014
Firstly, I have the 2013 edition which seems OK respecting production quality: it is not exceptional in that respect for the £40 cover price, but it is a substantial volume of 440 pages and I paid a lot less than that. The paper dust cover will not last long unless you cover it.
This is quite an ambitious book covering nine ships in very respectable detail. Although it is not a large format volume the print size is small (really rather too small) and presentation is double column: each ship is given about 45 pages, but that would be 100 pages in some books. The photographs are very interesting and quite numerous, including some interior views, but most of them are necessarily quite small and reproduction suffers from the rather indifferent paper quality.
If you want to discover quite a lot about these ships but do not wish to buy half dozen books to do so, this volume is a good option. There is a great deal of anecdotal material as well as the 'bare bones' of ship history- and these were very interesting ships. The stories of these giant liners were intertwined so closely that a book like this one makes a lot of sense. The authors own interests 'come through'. For example, he has much to say about the loss of Lusitania, which he puts down to ignorance and over confidence. The role of Captain Turner and the contrast between him and his predecessor are emphasised, whilst the many conspiracy theories are dismissed- a bit disappointing, that, but I guess Mr Kent Layton is correct! The sinking itself is rather skipped over- but it is pleasing to read a book in which the Titanic, though thoroughly covered, does not hog all the lime light. As for her, the tale is well told, again with emphasis on the character and role of her officers.
One thing I do not like is the use of nearly 40 pages of 'notes'. In my view if a thing is worth saying it should be in the text. It is almost impossible to read numerous notes whilst actually reading the book itself, but at least in this case it's just about possible to read them later without having to constantly refer back to the main text. Another objection is the absence of any tabulated data giving specifications- most of this information can be found in the text, but an easy comparison between the ships is not provided for. Detailed layout 'cutaways' are provided for every liner, most of which have been taken from 'The Shipbuilder,' but they are far too small in scale to be of any real use.
All considered, this is a good book written in an easy to read style- suitable for those with a general interest. I would not pay £40 for this, but at discounted prices it represents a very worthwhile read, since it covers nine ships with fascinating and intertwined histories: moreover, in doing so it actually manages to keep Titanic 'in her place'!