With the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy coming up in April 2012, this engaging overview retells the powerful story and its aftermath.
McPherson opens effectively, with the crucial scene when the iceberg was spotted “right ahead,” noting that the lookout binoculars had been missing for days, and gives a brief recap of the sinking. The narrative then goes back through a brief history of steamships and the business reasons for building huge ones, followed by a more detailed account of the trip and its terrible end, the survivors’ arrival in New York and the quickly convened Senate hearings about the disaster. Final chapters report on finding and excavating the ship in recent years. The smooth writing uses many quotes from the time, deftly incorporates facts and conveys the terror and heartbreak of the sinking, in which more than 1,500 died, and the rescue of about 700. A graceful design with a wide format features many historical photographs and illustrations, and sidebars on a host of topics such as significant people and statistics. Although the source notes and index are inadequate, McPherson provides a timeline, glossary, bibliography and thoughtful list for finding more information.
An attractive, solid entry on a disaster that continues to fascinate.(Nonfiction. 11-15)