Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lost Voices From the Titanic

Author: Nick Barratt
Goodreads Rating: 3.32
My Rating: 3.5
Pages: 286 (264 w/o appendix and index)
Reviewed by: Nicole

I am a disaster junkie. It's terrible to say, but it is so true. I went to see the Titanic when it came out the first time in theaters (I was only 6 or 7 and I constantly wonder what my parents were thinking, but then I remember that I was just that persuasive). I saw this book while I was in Mystic, CT and then I saw my library had it so I decided that in honor of the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage, I would review some books about it.

Goodreads Synopses:

On April 15, 1912, the HMS Titanic sank, killing 1,517 people and leaving the rest clinging to debris in the frozen waters of the North Atlantic awaiting rescue. Here, historian Nick Barratt tells the ship’s full story, starting from its original conception and design by owners and naval architects at the White Star Line through its construction at the shipyards in Belfast. Lost Voices From the Titanic offers tales of incredible folly and unimaginable courage—the aspirations of the owners, the efforts of the crew, and of course, the eyewitness accounts from those lucky enough to survive.
In narrating the definitive history of the famous ship, Barratt draws from never before seen archive material and eyewitness accounts by participants at every stage of the Titanic’s life. These long-lost voices bring new life to those heartbreaking moments on the fateful Sunday night when families were torn apart and the legend of the Titanic was cemented in our collective imagination.

Jump into my review!
Since I left school I haven't been doing too much educational reading. For the most part it has been books that I just want to read for fun and don't really have any kind of educational aspect to them (other than new vocab). So I decided I needed some schooling so I went for this book. It reminded me how much I don't miss reading for interpretation and for meaning.

This book did a great job of pointing out all of the instances of gross negligence that occurred on board the Titanic. For starters, not enough life boats which was a purely aesthetic call, rather than worry about saving lives, they wanted to make room for the second class passengers to stroll the deck. Hindsight tells me that the 59% of them that died would have preferred the lifeboat. Second! Those lifeboats didn't have everything they needed on them (like food and water) and some of them were not even close to capacity. 12 people were on lifeboat 1 (7 crew, 3 men, 2 women), that boat was meant to hold 45 people. Some boats that had space they refused to let people on.

The saddest instance was a newlywed couple who were separated even though there was space on her lifeboat for her husband and the teenage boy that the crewman threatened to shoot. There were so many things that I didn't realize happened when it came to the Titanic. Hollywood fills you with this idea that is what happened and it turns out that was wrong. 

There was no chaos to get onto the lifeboats until it was almost too late. People assumed that they would be safer on the ship and not the lifeboats. I also never knew that the United States and Great Britain launched inquires and committees into finding out what happened that night. (Add that to the list of things they don't teach you in history class) What I also found interesting was that while the Captain and the designer of the ship went down with it, Mr. Bruce Imay, the owner of the White Star Liner Company, was in one of the lifeboats while women froze to death with their babies led close in their arms. Not only did this disgust me, but it also reminded me of the recent Costal Concordia accident. 

Although Barratt does a lot of reiterating of the same facts through the whole book (not enough life boats, Ismay survived, Smith ignored warnings) I think overall he did a good job. He provided a lot of primary sources like letters and telegrams which help to make the tragedy seem more real. It was terrible, everything that happened that night including the neglect of a nearby ship to come and save the Titanic, but it is also important to learn from our mistakes which the Senate Committee ensured would happen.

It is a little slow to start, but any history buff would enjoy it.

1 comment:

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