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A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic (Holt Paperback) Paperback – December 23, 2004
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James Cameron's 1997 Titanic movie is a smash hit, but Walter Lord's 1955 classic remains in some ways unsurpassed. Lord interviewed scores of Titanic passengers, fashioning a gripping you-are-there account of the ship's sinking that you can read in half the time it takes to see the film. The book boasts many perfect movie moments not found in Cameron's film. When the ship hits the berg, passengers see "tiny splinters of ice in the air, fine as dust, that give off myriads of bright colors whenever caught in the glow of the deck lights." Survivors saw dawn reflected off other icebergs in a rainbow of shades, depending on their angle toward the sun: pink, mauve, white, deep blue--a landscape so eerie, a little boy tells his mom, "Oh, Muddie, look at the beautiful North Pole with no Santa Claus on it."
A Titanic funnel falls, almost hitting a lifeboat--and consequently washing it 30 yards away from the wreck, saving all lives aboard. One man calmly rides the vertical boat down as it sinks, steps into the sea, and doesn't even get his head wet while waiting to be successfully rescued. On one side of the boat, almost no males are permitted in the lifeboats; on the other, even a male Pekingese dog gets a seat. Lord includes a crucial, tragically ironic drama Cameron couldn't fit into the film: the failure of the nearby ship Californian to save all those aboard the sinking vessel because distress lights were misread as random flickering and the telegraph was an early wind-up model that no one wound.
Lord's account is also smarter about the horrifying class structure of the disaster, which Cameron reduces to hollow Hollywood formula. No children died in the First and Second Class decks; 53 out of 76 children in steerage died. According to the press, which regarded the lower-class passengers as a small loss to society, "The night was a magnificent confirmation of women and children first, yet somehow the loss rate was higher for Third Class children than First Class men." As the ship sank, writes Lord, "the poop deck, normally Third Class space ... was suddenly becoming attractive to all kinds of people." Lord's logic is as cold as the Atlantic, and his bitter wit is quite dry. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Publicity surrounding the Academy Award- winning motion picture Titanic makes this a sure-to-circulate choice. Lord's classic time-travel tale drawn from survivors' accounts remains the best Titanic story after all these years. The analysis of the event moves from reports of pretrip hype through the ambiance of the fated last evening to first reports of trouble, loading life boats, and rescue efforts. Though the recording features no atmosphere music or sound effects, Fred Williams's reading sounds so like a news report that the immediacy engages the reader from the start. Highly recommended for all collections.ASandy Glover, West Linn P.L., OR
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Not only is the book a well-written, riveting account of the Titanic's final hours, it also tells the personal stories of some of the passengers and crew members that survived that harrowing time. It is also a peek into a bygone time, that of the Edwardian era, when class distinctions were more marked and the concept of women and children first prevailed.
Although the story of the Titanic is a tragic one, out of its debacle arose improved shipboard safety, and the practice of having enough lifeboats to accommodate all passengers became the standard. No longer would an ocean going vessel ever market itself as unsinkable.
This is a marvelous book that those with an interest in the Titanic Or stories of survival will love. I was positively riveted from start to finish.
In the mid-1950s, author Walter Lord began writing A Night to Remember. He was able to directly interview more than sixty survivors whose own experiences were invaluable to the book.
The book itself is mainly a look at the sinking of the ship itself and the subsequent rescue. It starts off right as the Titanic is about to strike the iceberg and continues through the events of the night and into the morning when the survivors were rescued by the Carpathia. Throughout, Lord uses the direct experiences of many people on board to create a vivid image of the chaos. These include experiences from every class (first, second, and third) and many crew members from the officers down to the stokers working in the boiler rooms.
There are two minor problems with the book, however. First is that it covers only the sinking of the Titanic itself. Aside from a few brief facts here and there, there is little background information on the ship. The second is that the book is now somewhat dated. Facts that were presumed to be correct when the book was published in 1955 are now known to be wrong. The iceberg did not tear a huge gash in the vessel, the Titanic was not the first use of the SOS distress signal in history, and the Titanic did not sink intact but rather broke in two before foundering.
However, overall, the book is a very good account of the Titanic sinking and certainly one of the most definitive books available on the disaster. This is required reading for anyone interested in the Titanic.