On September 27, 1854, a mid-ocean collision between two ships resulted in the loss of the Arctic, the fastest, most luxurious vessel of her day. Of the 400 persons on board, only 86 were saved and not one woman or child survived. Since his childhood, Brown has heard of this catastrophe which took the lives of several members of his family. Along with his careful research, he brings to the account of the tragedy a definite immediacy. Almost unbelievable examples of destructive panic and greed take place along side of such stories as that of James Smith who improvised a small raft and, while thirst had driven him near to the point of hallucination, still ingeniously managed to alert the attention of a passing ship. The tragic fight of Captain Russell to save the Arctic, and then his passengers, and his determination that he and his young crippled son must go down with his ship, runs through the book. It all provides a stirring story, definitely superior in the now popular annals of disaster.