Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Titanic 1912


Rating: 2 Stars



I am trying to be nicer in my reviews and finding positives among the negatives. It is hard though with books like this that will just make a statement and not back it up with any evidence, contemporary accounts, etc. I am glad I got this one for free on my Kindle.

First, the positives. There were many photographs I had not seen before - and some I never care to see again (primarily the one where a body is being pulled from the ocean during the recovery efforts. Even though it was just on my Kindle and it was an old photograph, a bit blurred and all, this is just not something I care to see. However, the myriad of other photographs aided in the story where the text was lacking and I found them to be interesting. Some were repeated however, so perhaps that will be cleaned up in a new edition.

The author seems to have it in for Captain Smith from the start. He makes statements throughout that Captain Smith ignored all the ice warnings, he didn't fire the rockets in the correct order so as to signal distress, etc. While I don't think he ignored the warnings in the way that is implied here, people have to remember Titanic was one of the biggest ships in the world, captained by one of the most experienced seamen at the time. Captain Smith had years of knowledge working against him - along with the notion that the ship was unsinkable. While realistically many seafarers probably recognized that no ship is truly unsinkable, the chaotic and celebratory days of the first voyage must have made it easy for them to want to believe the hype. Secondly, every book I have read thus far of crew member accounts, plus those on the nearby California who refused to answer the distress call, recognized the flares as a distress call. I would have liked the author to elaborate and explain what he means by the rockets not being set off correctly. Unfortunately, there is none.

In addition to lack of information, this applies as well to the interesting premise the author includes early on about comparing Titanic to the Costa Concordia which sank a few years ago. Some of the parallels are mentioned earlier on, but eventually that just kind of goes by the wayside and there's no follow up. It seems kind of pointless to have included it at all, when there was little analysis. Again too, with the author's mention of the book published fourteen years before Titanic sank, called Wreck of the Titan. This was one of the shortest chapters, yet could have been so much more interesting. There were similarities to begin with between the book and Titanic, though I believe I read in a different book that after Titanic sank, a new edition was published with added details to make the sinkings even more similar. Again though, no analysis where there was room for plenty.

All in all, I did find the photographs interesting. I can't completely say don't bother, if only for those. However, this book truly only skimmed the surface and could in truth have been much longer, but also much better. I wish the author had delved a little more deeply into the topics I mentioned above, as well as a few others I've chosen not to go into for sake of brevity. It's got a pretty steep bias against Captain Smith also, and little blame put on Ismay, which I think is inaccurate. The author even says at one point that Ismay wouldn't have pushed for the ship to go faster, as passengers would then have arrived a day early and be ahead of any reservations they might have made in the city. Personally I highly doubt Ismay would have cared about that when he could have gotten major headlines for arriving early. More attention meant more people ready to spend money which in turn meant a bigger profit for him.

Anyway, if you have never read a single book about Titanic and the movie is your only source of knowledge, do not start with this book. If you have a good base, this one might be okay but you won't learn many new facts.

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