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A Night to Remember Mass Market Paperback – June 2, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 527 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (June 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553278274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553169935
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (527 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Sutton on July 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dear Amazon.com Readers,
With a passenger list in the back, detailing those who survived and those who didn't, "A Night to Remember," is a harrowing account of the Titanic's ill-fated journey from Europe to the United States.
The book really tells of the people who spent fortunes to get aboard the Titanic, the most luxurious cruiseliner of the time. I really don't think that this book can be compared to the movie "Titanic." They are both such different stories, that saying one is like the other is missing the point.
"A Night to Remember is much more than Hollywook hype. It is really more of a personal account of what happened aboard the ship, and the horrors of the sinking and of the rescues (most people died, only a few survived). I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the saga of the Titanic. This book is based solidly on fact, which is one reason I like it so much. I remember reading this several years ago, and being kept up at night as a result.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I must be the only person who read this book years before the movie came out. As a child, this was one of my very favorite books that I have since reread many times. Lord captures everything: the social mores, the lavish banquets, the characters (the captain!), the conditions on the rest of the ship, and the tragedy of it all. The movie leaves nothing to the imagination, but this account is truly superb. If you never got a chance to read it, don't delay. You'll learn almost everything about the tragedy from a master story teller. The scenes right before they strike the iceburg are incredible, as are every scene of the evacuation. Finally, it's clear why no one wanted to leave the security of the ship. The worst tragedy of all was that many of the lifeboats were lowered with hardly anyone on them because they were afraid to leave the ship. Many more lives could have been saved.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" in the summer of 1968 as part of my required reading list for freshman year of high school. I was so fascinated by the account that I read it at least three times that summer and early fall. It brought to chilling life one of the greatest maritime disasters in history. As I read the dog-eared, yellowing, crinkled-paper copy of the paperback (its purchase price was sixty-cents back then) once again last year as a "mature" 42 year old, Mr. Lord's brilliant account of the tragedy still held my attention. His vivid, detailed, yet smooth flowing narrative brought back the excitement as felt as a young teenager, in a way that few books have. I recently viewed the movie "Titanic" with my fourteen year old daughter. The movie was thoroughly enjoyable, but there were some aspects of the book (such as the spectre of a rescue ship only a few precious miles away)that could have added to the drama. The book is worth reading both as literature as well as history.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
No matter how many times you revisit it, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, the granddaddy of all Titanic books, remains as fresh a read today as it did fifty years ago. Walter Lord is still universally regarded as "the man who knows everything about the Titanic" and this fast-paced, detail-laden, and dramatically visualized book is the reason why and the product of that reason.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER transports you to the decks of the Titanic that cold April night so convincingly that you are left with an eerie chill-between-your-shoulder blades feeling as the great ship goes down.

You share the early complacency of the passengers on the 'unsinkable' ship. Your sense of impending doom grows as the bows disappear below the glassy Atlantic. You grit your teeth at the obtuseness of the crew of the Californian---why, oh why, didn't they question those white rockets?---and you share in the breathless trauma of those on shore as the story unfolds.

Sure, since the discovery of the wreck many questions have been answered (and a few more posed). Some of Lord's information is dated (the ship did in fact break in half, for example). There have been other 'Titanic' books, and they explore almost every aspect of the disaster in meticulous detail; even Lord's follow-up The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories & Secrets Behind the Sinking of the Unsinkable Ship-Titanic falls into this category. But no one has ever told the story of the RMS Titanic any better, and it's likely they never will.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic book on the sinking of the Titanic and the first book I ever read on the subject. It should be understood before reading this book that our collective understanding of the Titanic disaster has moved on since the time A Night to Remember was first published in 1956. For example upon discovering the wreck of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic in 1985 it was clear that the Titanic had indeed broken in half and rested upon the sea bed in two halves. As anybody who has seen the 1958 film "A Night To Remember" will realise this book presents the ship as sinking whole, which was not the case. But this is not to say that this book does not have a lot of outstanding information to impart to the interested reader. The book considers the Titanic from the time in 1907 when she was conceived, the building of the Titanic, the maiden voyage and the sinking and finally the subsequent investigations and recriminations. Particularly thought provoking is the full listing of the passengers at the back of the book including those who survived along with those who perished. What I found particularly shocking was the listing of Third Class Passengers, with its very low numbers of survivors. Walter Lord's book is very easy to read, though the subject matter is somewhat more difficult to digest, due to the overwhelming nature of the Titanic tragedy.
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