Posts Tagged With: Beau Riffenburgh

The Titanic Experience by Beau Riffenburgh

The Titanic Experience
Beau Riffenburgh

Synopsis from Amazon:

Nearly a century on, the fate of the Titanic remains the worst disaster in seafaring history. Dozens of books have charted the all-too-short life of the Titanic but this is the first to contain 30 fascinating facsimile items of Titanic memorabilia. These give the reader a unique and compelling insight into life on board the Titanic as she ventured out into the icy seas of the North Atlantic in April 1912

Review: When such a wealth of information as regards the legend of Titanic exists, it’s difficult to know where to begin reading. While the selling point of The Titanic Experience seems to be the 20+ facsimile documents included, I can without hesitation recommend this as one of the most comprehensive general texts available. Although only 63 pages long, it covers in considerable detail the competitive development in ocean liners during the 1800s which led to the concept of Titantic and her sister ships, Olympic and Britannic; right through the construction, launch, sinking, rediscovery and representation in books, movies and on stage of the ill-fated ship. Heavily (if not melancholically and beautifully)illustrated by paintings, posters, and, in particular, photographs, the book brings a level of realism to the tragedy I had not before encountered, and also to the many crew and passengers, famous and anonymous, survivors and dead. Small fact boxes documenting statistics and figures (including food and cutlery brought aboard, estimated departmental crew figures etc)accentuate the more general overview of the main text.

Many key figures are traced throughout the events with regard to their actions, famous people(Molly Brown, the band that went on playing etc)but also slightly lesser known persons such as Harold Bride. Bride was the Junior Wireless Officer aboard Titanic and as the book chronologically documents the disaster, his story is gradually told. Recipient of some ice warnings throughout the 13th April, the officer who relayed distress calls to the Carpathia, who went down with his ship; surviving 45 minutes trapped under a lifeboat in an air pocket with all but his feet in tact, the man who spent the night with another Harold, (Cottam, the Wireless Officer aboard the Carpathia) relaying the names of survivors until his arrival in New York where, unable to walk, he was carried away. His is but one of many stories chronologically interwoven with the likes of Stanley Lord, captain of the Californian, J. Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of the White Star Line, Captain Smith, and many unknowns.

The facsimilies include blueprints, posters, advertisements, the telegrams exchanged between the Carpathia and Titanic the night of the disaster, later propositions for new lifeboats and safety measures; arguably my favourite is the four page letter handwritten by Captain Stanley Lord attempting to clear his name of the fabricated accusation that the Califorian was the infamous Mystery Ship seen by Titanic which sailed into the night without offering aid. My second favourite is a typed letter from the sons of Ismay and Lord regarding the inaccurate portrayal of their fathers in the 1958 film “A Night To Remember”. Later pages include the details of aftershock of the event, the impact on sea travel developments, on the survivors lives and the controversy surrounding recovered artefacts from the wreckage.

All in all, the book spans over 150 years of information relevant to the creation, destruction and subsequent legend of Titanic. A condensed and concise modern text, it’s suitable for both the new Titantic explorer or old enthusiast. It comes complete with a list of recommended further reading, including books written by survivors of the disaster, and a list of related websites, making it the perfect base resource for further study. Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 10/10

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