One of the deans of maritime history returns with some sidebars to enlarge the hefty history of the Titanic.
One of the most appealing features of Maxtone-Graham’s (Normandie: France's Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner, 2007, etc.) approach is his generous gratitude and affection for his mentor, Walter Lord (1917–2002), whose A Night to Remember (1955) was a bestseller that ignited one of the first firestorms of interest in the disaster. The author looks closely at a number of aspects of the case, beginning with the developments of Morse code and the Marconi wireless, techniques and inventions that lowered the loss of life that night. He also examines the design and construction and departure of the ship and talks of recent visits to the sites, where, he notes sadly, “there is less and less to preserve.” He recalls the near-collision at departure with the nearby New York; a passenger filmed the episode, but the footage sank with the ship. Maxtone-Graham also writes about the chaos and human tragedy associated with the loading and lowering of the too-few lifeboats, and adds some grimly humorous details about how people managed without chamber pots. He revisits the case of the nearby Californian, which sat still and did not respond; he takes us aboard the crowded Carpathia, the ship that rescued the hundreds of survivors. The author also reminds us of the musicians who played—and died—that night and is saddened by the vandalism that has damaged a number of Titanic memorials.
Small details enriched with deep emotion and dramatic irony.