This is a fascinating book about the Titanic tragedy. Remember how you feel when an item of 'breaking news' comes on the 24 hours news broadcasts? You find yourself hanging on every snippet of new information, trying to work out what its implication is and use it to piece together the picture of what is actually happening. Well, here is the Titanic tragedy played out in the same way, except that the time intervals for new information are counted in days and not minutes. But just like today, there are facts and mistakes, truth and lies to be picked over and interpreted.
The difficulty of getting information out is highlighted by stories of 'Wireless Chaos'. The rumour mill was working overtime: there were rumours of other ships having picked up survivors and these had to be denied.
Very quickly questions were being asked about the lifeboats, though one report says that the liner carried 'a number of boats in excess of the official requirements.' Then, as the enormity of the tragedy strikes home, questions are asked in the House of Commons and people start defending their positions in public. These reports are carried int he papers as well.
Unlike films and many written accounts, this book goes further than the disaster itself. As the Daily Sketch said on 17 April 1912, "the disaster is a terrible blow for Southampton. Nearly all of the Officers and crew lived there, and very few of them can have been saved." That was the truth and the impact on the City was devastating. The Daily Sketch and others opened disaster funds.
The arrival of the Carpathia, carrying survivors, was a major event in New York, but this was a full nine days after the first report of the Titanic sinking. But from then on, there were stories from the survivors to help piece together the events of the night.
Human-interest stories keep the tragedy alive to the end of April as survivors' stories are picked over for nuggets of information. There are even rumours that the ill-fated Hope Diamond may have been on board (redolent of the Leonardo di Caprio film!)
Then the Board of Trade sets up am Inquiry and this starts to uncover the real facts. Eventually, in July, the conclusion is reached that the loss was due to excessive speed. But doubts remain to this day that that was the whole story.
This book is easy to read, as it is in essence a series of newspaper reports designed to be easily read. The strength of this book, however, is that it does not assemble the facts into a cogent narrative: it presents the jumble of information as it became available and shows how difficult it was to pick a way through the jumble of fact, rumour and interpretation of the tragic events of that night. In doing so it recreates the atmosphere of the day and gives an insight into what it must have been like to live through those harrowing times. Fascinating, Five stars.
This book is the perfect companion to Extra Titanic: The Story of the Disaster in the Newspapers of the Day . The Titanic Disaster analyses the tragedy as reported by The Times and the Daily Sketch in April-July time frame. The articles are reproduced faithfully by the author as they originally appeared in 1912 (respecting spelling errors, etc.) but with Times New Roman-12 and single spacing (obviously, the classic journalistic layout is maintained!!!). What changes is just the character and the font size; in fact, with a larger format the reader can look through the articles easily. What is important is that there are lots of original pictures and period newspapers front-pages transcribed chronologically on the book pages!!! This hardback edition has not got a dustjacket! The book cover is made of a beautiful "glossy material", so that's why the book does not need a jacket!
Dave Bryceson's (1997) book is the culmination of years of painstaking research and what is, for the author, an enduring fascination for the impact of this great maritime disaster not only upon the lives of those who perished and their relatives, but also the great sense of public participation in the private grief of those affected by it.
Just very occassionally, in more modern times, a great human catastrophe affects a whole nation or group of nations. Not so much because of the number of people killed or injured, but for reasons that are more subtle than that.
'The Titanic Disaster' captures the effect upon ordinary people of this enormous public tragedy, through a collection of press reports, announcements and published photographs which followed the events of 14th and 15th April 1912.
This book is great reading, informative and historical. Since the author uses the actual headlines and articles from the newspapers of 1912 you can't help but feel you are traveling through time. The accounts of survivors are heart wrenching and the survivors of those lost, even more so. The inquiries are most interesting and politics never change, do they? I love this book!
As I am intrested in the Titanic and have one other book on the subject. Even though this book does not tell the whole story, it gives you facts and information on the sinking and what happens after that I never knew. An intresting book.