With the arrival of the 100th anniversary, the shelves are flooding with new books and reprints on every topic related to Titanic. here are reviews of some of the entries.
More reviews will be added in the coming weeks.
And the Band Played On by Christopher Ward, Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 274 pp, illus., ©2012 ISBN 978 1 444 70794 6. Available from amazon.com: Hardbound $17.20; paperback $10.25 (plus shipping); Kindle edition $8.66 (Amazon.co.uk: £12.40; £5.43; £4.99)
Of all acts of heroism and valor realized during the hours of Titanic’s loss, none is so well defined or so often recalled as the audacity of the courageous bandsmen:
…High on the boat deck, in a space adjacent to the second funnel, the bandsmen paused in their music making. Earlier they had played rags, gay pieces from musical theatre, brave marches. The deck beneath them began a slow, almost imperceptible slant forward. Cold hands gripped instruments tightly, chilled fingers groped for taught strings. Bandmaster Wallace Hartley tapped his bow and spoke a title. The strains of the well-loved Londonderry Air (Danny Boy to many) drifted across the calm waters now dotted with drifting lifeboats.
The slanting decks grew steeper, more slippery. The music ceased, then began again, thinly, as Hartley, perhaps in reverie, pulled his bow across the strings for the final time. He was joined as, one by one, the other players picked up the familiar tune — the hymn played at gravesides for brother musicians departed, and Hartley’s own favorite. Nearer, My God, To Thee.
It is impossible to stand. The music’s sounds are lost in an increasingly thunderous roar…
(Eaton & Haas, Falling Star, Patrick Stephens, Ltd., 1989, p. 162)
Collectively, the brave musicians are among the best remembered of the disaster’s details. There are more statues and plaques, more public observances, more memorials to the gallant bandsmen than to any other of the wreck’s groups. And rightly so.
But there are also more pages of legality, of Court documents; more folios involving accusation and litigation concerning the bandsmen than for any group or individual associated with the wreck. There are questions that seek answers regarding their status aboard ship; property and employment rights; of who owned the music sheets they used, even the uniforms they wore. But by far, the most unusual of these actions are a paternity suit and the bitter court struggle of an unwed mother to regain her rights and those of her bastard child’s.
And the Band Played On, a splendid book by the British journalist Christopher Ward, truly takes up where the drama of Titanic’s loss leaves off. Mr. Ward’s excellent research takes the reader to Halifax, where a jumble of unidentified bodies must be given names and a proper burial; it moves on to tell the sad tale of a young girl’s deep love that could not wait for marriage; to civil records that limn Andrew Hume, as dishonest and avaricious a father as might have graced the pages of Charles Dickens; of recognition pitifully sought and cruelly denied; of love and life triumphant over adversity.
To this already-existing mix of heady intrigue is added a gratuitous side show — the dark tale of yet another young girl (sister to the drowned bandsman) who, perhaps in mental compensation for the death of a mother, a grand mother, and, now, a beloved brother, perpetuates a hoax with international implications, is imprisoned and must — yes — go to court, where she is absolved by a sympathetic judge.
That there is so much more to Titanic’s saga than the recounting of a ship destroyed by Nature during her maiden voyage. This book lets us peer beyond the veil of Victorian/Edwardian propriety for a glimpse of the repercussions and implications that, for two families, rippled far beyond the vortex left from the sinking liner.
(Readers of this book might also find of interest RMS Titanic, ‘Dinner is served’ by Yvonne Hume, [ISBN 978184603334845], menus and recipes from the great liner revisited by a great niece of Titanic violinist John Law Hume. It contains a page devoted to her illustrious ancestor as well as some excellent gustatory recollections of Edwardian shipboard adventures.)
—Review by John P. Eaton
Titanic and Liverpool by Alan Scarth. Published by Liverpool University Press and National Museums Liverpool. ISBN 978-1-8463-1222-9. 215 pp. + appendix, notes, bibliography and index. Approx. 72 black-and-white, 44 color photographs. © 2009. Available from amazon.com for $8.33 + shipping.
When the 1953 Twentieth-Century Fox movie Titanic debuted in theatres worldwide, Liverpudlians likely were dismayed to see “Southampton” on the movie model’s stern. Cities like Belfast, where the liner was built, and Southampton, from which she sailed, seem firmly in history’s spotlight, with Liverpool seemingly in the shadows when people consider Titanic’s story.
But indeed, Liverpool has many Titanic connections, from the ship’s port of registry to the headquarters of the company that owned her, to the hometowns of 115 of her crew and 16 passengers.
In this book Dr. Alan Scarth, curator of ship models at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum, has explored a unique new “angle” to Titanic’s story; indeed it is the first book-length examination of Liverpool’s Titanic connections.
After setting Titanic into the context of its time and its owner’s fortunes, Scarth provides fascinating details and anecdotes about Titanic’s Liverpool-area passengers and crew.
The book is copiously illustrated with historic photographs, and images of crew members, memorials, and many of the Titanic-related artifacts and documents in the collections of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, among them color views of the gold medal given to Capt. Arthur Rostron with ‘the thanks of the Congress of the United States,’ the loving cup presented to him by the “Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ Laura Francatelli’s maid’s uniform, the ship’s customs register page and even correspondence from the company that provided Titanic’s flags.
For many years, the builders’ model of Titanic has resided in Liverpool, and beautiful full-color, full-page close-ups of many details of the model are provided as each chapter’s divider pages. And the pages are large, allowing full display of many images.
Scarth’s writing style is clean and lean and a pleasure to read; one can learn so much from this book’s well-researched contents.
At the current price of just $8.38 plus shipping at amazon.com, Titanic and Liverpool is a true bargain that sheds light on Liverpool’s little-known but important connections to history’s most famous ship. The book is highly recommended.
RMS Titanic Owners’ Workshop Manual by David F. Hutchings and Richard de Kerbrech. Published by Haynes Publishing (UK) and Zenith Press (USA). ISBN 978-0-7603-4079-0. 149 pp. + appendices, bibliography and index. Approx. 160 black-and-white and 45 color photos and diagrams. © 2011. Available for $18.48 + shipping from amazon.com.
Haynes Publishing Group in the UK has a long history of publishing detailed owners’ manuals for automobiles, and they’ve proven very popular. Now the company is applying that successful format to non-automotive topics, bringing out volumes on the Space Shuttle, the Apollo 11 spacecraft, the Concorde, the Starship Enterprise, and this volume on the Olympic class.
TIS member David Hutchings and Richard deKerbrech examine almost every facet of the ships’ technical side, from framing and plating to expansion joints; from lifeboats to generators; from steering gear to wireless equipment. A very interesting section, “Engineer’s View,” tells how the ship’s equipment was operated, in very practical terms, from the viewpoint of one of her engineers. What’s the correct way to raise steam in the ships’ boilers? You’ll find the answer here. How does one get rid of the ashes in the boilers? The book covers that, too. What was it like to clean a boiler? Want to see how Titanic lifeboats were built? A 17-photo color spread shows a modern boat builder at work. Did you know coal from different locations produced different amounts of heat? Check out the chart on page 88. One appendix helpfully lists sites where Titanic-related artifacts may be seen.
The authors are particularly skilled in translating ‘technicalese’ into plain English, making this volume ideal for the nautical neophyte as well as the more experienced maritime reader. The book’s layout is fresh and lively, with large photos, tables and diagrams in profusion, though the sans-serif typeface chosen for the text can be somewhat tiring to read.
Deck plans are provided, though they are those of Olympic, not Titanic as labeled. Inexplicably a few glitches occur in several photo captions. But the diagrams explaining the features and operation of various equipment aboard are well done and very helpful.
This volume will prove a very helpful resource to readers wishing to know more about the operation of these three important vessels. Likely it will be the sort of book one picks up and samples, rather than read from cover-to-cover. Beautifully produced on good quality glossy stock, it covers all sorts of topics that one probably has never thought about, and, in doing so, brings a new appreciation of the mechanical marvels that were Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Unlike most of the parade of Titanic books coming out for the centennial – most recycling what’s already out there — this volume’s fresh approach to an underdeveloped topic merits serious consideration for purchase.