Most of this was standard information for me, although I have an abiding interest in the Titanic so I may have more background knowledge than the average person. The neat thing about this particular book is that because it is audio the BBC used actual historical recordings from survivors that were made in interviews years after the sinking. There’s an apology on the cover about the rough auditory quality for some of these, however, I didn’t find any of them particularly bad. The accents on a few of the speakers are a bit thick at times but nothing impossible.
What’s also interesting it that they did not just look at survivors and the experiences on the Titanic, but also those of the people on the rescue boats that were receiving wireless transmissions of the sinking as it progressed. I hadn’t considered what is must have been like to be on a neighbouring vessel that was just too far away to help in time, but be able to hear the distress calls.
The authors make an excellent point that the reason the Titanic lives on so insistently in the collective memory is not just the tragedy of it but the fact that the ship represented a microcosm of Edwardian society. People are interested in not only the events but why they played out so differently for second class versus third class, or for first versus second etc. Why were the lifeboats mostly under-filled for instance? This book addresses a lot of the standard questions that people have about the disaster, intermingled with first-hand accounts mostly in their own voices.
I’m not sure the effect would have been the same in print, however, this audiobook made my inner history nerd very happy. 3 stars.
- The Titanic [PDF]
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