April 15, 2012

Book Review: 101 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT THE TITANIC . . . BUT DIDN'T! by Tim Maltin and Eloise Aston

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  People have an endless fascination with the Titanic, yet much of what they know today is a mixture of fact and fiction. In one hundred and one brief and engaging chapters, Tim Maltin, one of the foremost experts on the Titanic, reveals the truth behind the most common beliefs about the ship and the night it sank. From physics to photographs, lawsuits to love stories, Maltin doesn't miss one tidbit surrounding its history. Heavily researched and filled with detailed descriptions, quotes from survivors, and excerpts from the official inquiries, this book is guaranteed to make readers rethink everything they thought they knew about the legendary ship and its tragic fate.

My Review:
I am one of the above-mentioned people who has an endless fascination with the Titanic.  I've read many books on the subject, as well as fictional takes on the doomed ship.  And who hasn't seen the 1997 movie?  (I've seen it multiple times, as well as the 1950s flick). 

When I heard of this book, I thought it would be right up my alley.  Happily, I was correct.

This book is a fantastic read for Titanic junkies.  It is chock full of facts that may be well known - - such as the ship's conception and design, the famous passengers - - and those that are little known, such as the most of the victims died not of drowning but of hypothermia (and many within twenty or so minutes after submerging in the water) and that third class passengers were not locked into steerage to allow upper class passengers the opportunity to get to the lifeboats first.  In fact, the male lower class passengers had a higher survival rate than the male first class passengers. 

The book is divided into sections such as the ship, passengers, omens, etc. and numbered, as the title suggests, 1 through 101.  The numbered facts are kept relatively short but informative, making for a quick and yet rewarding read.  I appreciated that 101 Things didn't give short shrift to the Titanic before the sinking, giving a plethora of facts (as well as myths) on the famous ship.  Authors Tim Maltin and Eloise Aston make judicious use of both the U.S. and British inquiry transcripts.   

I was also pleased to see that Morgan Robertson's 1898 novella, Futility, Or The Wreck of the Titan, was one of the facts included in the book.  Being a Titanic junkie I had heard of the Robertson book, with the fictional ship Futility's eerie parallels to the real doomed liner, as well as her sister ship, the Olympic.  101 Things included where Futility differed as well - - although I must admit that the coincidences are chilling.  Equally chilling, and included, are that Robertson also wrote a novella about a war between the Americans and the Japanese which began with a sneak attack by the Japanese on Hawaii and involved the use of a device developed by Americans similar to the atomic bomb, causing blindness, heat and facial burns - - in 1914, nearly 30 years before World War II actually took place.

101 Things shined a very real light on a much publicized tragedy.  Captain E. J. Smith was a captain with great skill and experience, a very respected man, husband and grandfather.  He wasn't showboating on the night the ship struck the iceberg, nor was he accident prone or drunk.  The Titanic was a ship of a different beast, so to speak, a type that no one up to that time in 1912 was accusomed to navigating.  "Unsinkable" Molly Brown was not treated with condescension by other first class passengers for coming from "new money"; in fact, fellow first class passenger Isidor Straus was also relatively "new money".  Two young boys were indeed kidnapped by their father and while their father did not survive the sinking, they did indeed and were cared for by a fellow passenger in New York until a month after the sinking, when their mother recognized them from newspaper photographs and was reunited with them.  The Goodwin family of Fulham, England was wiped out by the sinking - - all eight members, including the eighteen month old baby. 

If you would like a book to add to your Titanic library, I cannot recommend this book enough.  It's factual without being boring and clears up many previous myths and misunderstandings about the ship, its people and the horrible tragedy that night in 1912. 

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . But Didn't is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link I will receive a small commission. 

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of my review. 

1 comment:

Tales of Whimsy said...

I'm a totalllll Titanic junkie too. Have been since way before the movie. It started in my teens when I read No Greater Love by Danielle Steele. I must check this out.