THE MAIDEN VOYAGE by Geoffrey Marcus
Kirkus Star


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Much more than A Night to Remember, this is a retelling and a reexamination of the Titanic story to show ""the efficacy of planned, official prevarication"" and to ""get at the real truth""--bad seamanship. Although Mr. Marcus' much more extensive (about twice as long) book doesn't have quite the instamatic action-incidentals of the Lord (Mrs. Straus giving her jewelry to her maid; the young honeymoon couple feeling the ship ""quiver"") he has his own revelations: the stranger warning a woman to get off before departure ""if she loves life."" But the most serious of them reside in what was established later, particularly in the British Inquiry even though its foreordained ""washing of dirty linen"" ended in a general whitewash. Here Marcus probes aspects Lord did not pursue: among them the ice reports by wireless which were undelivered to the bridge; the rockets' (white) glare observed and ignored by 2nd Officer of the Californian; the conduct in ""the Money Boat"" (of the Duff Gordons) and their refusal to rescue others; the Titanic's maintenance of high speed in an icy track. . . none of which was ""unforeseen nor unforeseeable""--the official conclusion. Familiarity cannot dim the excitement of this story even if much of the bravura legend is unsinkable--people will like to remember the band playing ""Nearer My God to Thee"" even if it was actually the much less familiar hymn, ""Autumn."" But this version disposes of the assorted apocrypha while retaining the drama of the disaster at full speed ahead--the waste, the gallantry, the almost catatonic calm of the tragedy.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1969
Publisher: Viking