Friday, July 20, 2012

"Titanic Tragedy" by John Maxtone-Graham (2012)

Just when you think you have heard all there is to hear about the Titanic, a new book appears with  even more fascinating stories about that tragic night. The author, John Maxtone-Graham, was friends with Walter Lord, who arguably was the man who started the whole Titanic craze when I was about 2 years old with the release of his book “A Night to Remember”. That book began an interest in the Titanic that has never wavered; nor should it.
The book begins with a brief recap of the race to perfect the wireless, and then prove its usefulness at sea. The operators of this new medium of communication were all real die hard enthusiasts, and to some degree that interest was of immeasurable value in the recovery of the 700, or so, survivors, who undoubtedly would have perished without the devotion of these men to the new technology.
Mr. Maxtone-Graham is a noted nautical scholar, and author, with almost his entire body of work devoted to the large ocean liners of the past. His work in this book; which I was at first a bit hesitant to pick up; is a pure delight. He expands on the stories we have already heard, while at the same time, bringing new insight into the events as they unfolded prior to the sinking, when confusion reigned aboard the mighty liner.
The arrival of the Carpathia on scene, and her turnaround to New York with the survivors, has never taken on so much life as it does in the skillful hands of the author. One of the many advantages he has over other authors on this subject is his friendship with the late Walter Lord. Through him, the author acquired the 7 letters which Mr. Lord wrote over a period of 20 years, or more, in which he takes on the persona of a passenger on the crippled liner. These “letters” help the reader to understand both the passengers, and the times in which they lived.
Also covered here; in more depth than before; are the details of the recovery efforts concerning the bodies which were left on scene, as well as a life raft or two. The scramble by the reporters waiting on the pier in New York is also of interest, as it speaks to the way news traveled in 1912.
As I said, I almost didn’t pick this one up, but once I did, could not put it down. Sometimes just knowing the ending isn’t enough; you need to understand the how’s and why’s behind it. To that end, the author has done a very thorough job; while, at the same time; creating a highly readable book.

No comments:

Post a Comment