Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Night to Remember - Walter Lord - review




On April 15th, 1912, Titanic, the world's largest passenger ship, sank after colliding with an iceberg, claiming more than 1,500 lives. Walter Lord's classic bestselling history of the voyage, the wreck and the aftermath is a tour de force of detailed investigation and the upstairs/downstairs divide. A Night to Remember provides a vivid, gripping and deeply personal account of the 'unsinkable' Titanic's descent.

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Although I read this book waaaaaay back when I was 17 (so long in the past I cannot even work it out), I am surprised how much of it I had forgotten and pleased that I decided to re-read.

With the centenary looming, I thought I would revisit one of the best accounts of what happened that night.

It does floor me slightly that no one really thought to collate witness accounts before the 1950's -  but a whole lot of history happened in between and the world had other things to think about.  There are other earlier books out there - but I am sure glad that Walter Lord took the time.

As when I first read it, I loved the way it is written. It is not all facts and figures - but a down to earth narrative, which invites you in and keeps your interest.

Working from countless letters and interviews, Lord weaves the tale of Titanic that at times made me smile, laugh and come back down with a bump as the reality of the events unfold.

It made me feel a lot more connected to everything I have ever heard about the ship -  from the reactions of First Class to the treatment of Steerage.

There are many, many books on the market -  some personal, some pragmatic -  but this for me is definitive and the best place to start.

An 8/10

4 comments:

  1. Definitely sounds an interesting account!

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  2. Wow - although I've seen the film of course, I didn't know that it was based on a book. I shall scour the internet for a copy. Though quite coincidentally I recently acquired some memorabilia in the form of an old photo and daily programmes from the cruise ship RMS Asturia ( bear with me) which played the part of RMS Titanic in that film (no CGI in those days). Poignantly the Asturia cruise programmes are dated August 1939 - just one month before the outbreak of WWII.

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  3. Thanks for the review, I haven't read this but it sounds good x

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  4. I haven't read this myself, looks interesting.

    My Grandfather was a seaman, he was on the Athenia when she was torpedoed, not that I know very much about his feelings on it because he didn't like to talk about it. It was a bit of a taboo subject.
    Like the sinking of the Iolaire after the first war, a sort of shocked hush fell over it and although I knew about it it wasn't something that was really spoken about very much. Just too painful for people.

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