Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Titanic Story: Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions Paperback – March 16, 1999
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
Cox dissects the actions of Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line, which built and maintained the Titanic, on the fateful night of its sinking. The image of Ismay climbing into a lifeboat and rowing away with his back to the sinking vessel is just one of the lasting, eerie memories portrayed here. Cox has taken the court testimony of passengers, sailors, even a ship's cook, and helped put a human face on the survivors of the wreck; unfortunately, some of those faces would be distasteful to look at, considering the actions of their owners. Cox regales us with tales of the lifeboats and the human struggle going on aboard as some payoffs were made and some boats skedaddled from the site of the sinking ship with all due speed, while many floundered about in the freezing water. Cox has the necessary scorn for Ismay and others whose actions were less than heroic, and his critic's approach to the affair reveals that the event truly did change people's lives. Joe Collins
A stellar blend of analysis and primary source material: good for both recreational reading and history studies. -- Booklist YA, 4/1/99
At a time when the popular media's distortion of the Titanic's story reaches its zenith, this persuasive clarification and debunking of public misconceptions is particularly welcome; it must form an essential part of any Titanic student's library. -- Philip Armstrong, Secretary of the Ulster Titanic Society
In 87 years the story of the Titanic has been reduced to slogans and soap opera. The Titanic, we are told, was doomed from the start by arrogant certainty in technology and progress. It was a time when rich people got out and let the poor sink.
Stephen Cox, professor of literature and director of the Humanities Program at the University of California at San Diego, argues modern moviemakers have radically simplified the Titanic story and essentially falsified it.
The lessons drawn from the Titanic are more debatable than they are made out to be today, Cox writes, and in any case are not what makes the story the cultural icon it has become. We remember the Titanic because it was a morality play. Ordinary people were forced to make "lifeboat" choices usually left to college philosophy classes. -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/17/99
There are more comprehensive treatments of the Titanic than this book, but none that better conveys why we should care how a couple thousand people spent two hours in the middle of one hellish night in the North Atlantic eighty-seven years ago. -- The Weekly Standard, 5/31/99
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The back cover is infuriating in its suggestion of providing a "fresh take" on the Titanic story. Worse, is the assertion that Stephen Cox refutes the "popular myth" (whatever that is) and shows that the "true story is more interesting...and much more disturbing". Talk about literary spin! There isn't anything new in this book, infact most of it - the first person accounts -are transcribed word for word as they are in other books.
Stephen Cox reads like a smug, know-it-all academic who sits in the safety of his ivory tower and waxes philosophic, dismissing a myriad of perspectives on the Titanic story as being without any value. Instead, he chooses to reduce the real-life persons involved to mere "characters" and likens the moment of the ship's sinking to be somehow a stage-set loaded with actors and actresses:
"These were all superb performances, whether they were meant to assist others or only, at last, to assert the actors' sense of themselves. Were they only performances? Perhaps. But if so, the roles selected were appropriate to a moral drama..."
Stephen Cox is a pedantic and condescending professor of literature; he is not a historian and this is blatantly obvious throughout. His supposed revolutionary ideas about the disaster come to very little, ie: even if there had been enough life boats, maybe they wouldn't have been utilized anyway given the situation. Maybe the captain of the Californian was a good guy after all...maybe "women and children first" is not a natural decision but rather a contrived moral position, blah blah blah.
It all amounts to boring speculation that at times reads like the musings of bloated professional student. At times his writing style is bewilidering:
"This, it appears, was their difference from Captain Lord, who took account of every risk except the risk of being the kind of person who cares only about the risks."
Enough said. This books stinks, and it's offensive to real historians; he speaks so scornfully about many of the witnesses and their recollections, that it reeks of insensitivity and self-righteousness.