Suffering from the same stilted emotionalism that plagued Cameron's movie, Pellegrino's study nevertheless provides gripping...



A haphazard eulogy to the big boat that refuses to release her grip on the popular imagination.

Following a turgid foreword by Titanic director James Cameron (in which the nastiest stereotypes of Hollywood illiteracy receive ample confirmation), Pellegrino (Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, 1994, etc.) launches into his eclectic collection of tales from the Titanic. In this grand hodgepodge, the reader meets such intriguing characters as the ship's baker (who survived by sheer force of will), lookout Frederick Fleet (who bore the brunt of the blame for the accident), and undocumented passenger Howard Irwin (who disappeared without a trace). Such stories are told to mixed effect: when Pellegrino narrates simply and subtly, he sketches a thumbnail portrait of a person alive with minute detail. On the other hand, his authorial voice at times intrudes with astounding banalities ("I know all about ghosts") and stilted dramatizations ("Tell your mother that I loved her dearly and still do"). The re-creations of the Titanic's final moments are linked to scientific discussions of the archaeological processes of investigating her. Pellegrino examines the immense difficulties of such a study in loving detail (and in accessible and exciting prose). For example, his analysis of the rusticles (a bacterial species that combines itself symbiotically with worms) is bizarrely fascinating; such scientific exuberance, however, is less enjoyable when directed to computing the ratio of survival between dust mites and cockroaches. In an afterword and postscript, Pellegrino considers the fates of the crew and their passengers, lists the expeditions that have studied the ship's wreckage, and ponders the dangers of technological hubris.

Suffering from the same stilted emotionalism that plagued Cameron's movie, Pellegrino's study nevertheless provides gripping reading due to the inherent fascination of the ship and her watery grave.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-13955-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?