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Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic Paperback – March 6, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The familiar story of the RMS Titanic--from her tragic 10-second encounter with an iceberg to her descent to the bottom of the ocean some three hours later, taking with her more than 1,500 lives--still looms large in the popular imagination. Daniel Butler, a researcher and archivist, worked on this book for 30 years, intensively compiling facts not only about the event, but also about the characters who played an important role, from the actions of Captain Smith and his crew to the inescapable fate of the third-class passengers. He also offers the startling revelation of a nearby ship which ignored the Titanic's distress call because the shipmates were afraid to awaken their captain.

Unsinkable explores every facet of the Titanic's history, from its conception to a modern-day researcher's attempts to salvage the ship. The author presents a contemporary view of the crew and the passengers aboard, creating a better understanding of the time and the social psyche that played a role in the disaster. Also of note is Butler's enlistment of a clinical psychologist to analyze Captain Smith's mental state as the drama unfolded before him. Butler's passionate yet balanced narrative permits readers to conclude for themselves who or what was ultimately responsible for sinking the unsinkable ship. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Because the story is so dramatic, this retelling of the sinking of the Titanic is a page-turner, even though Butler, a Florida-based veteran of the U.S. Army and a Titanic buff, has little to add to what is already well known. He presents interesting information on the first four days of the voyage but otherwise recounts the mishaps that contributed to the tragedy: the failure of the ship's officers to heed the iceberg warnings; the tacit refusal of a nearby ship to come to the Titanic's aid; and the fact that the few lifeboats that fled the ship were only half full, leaving behind 1500 passengers to perish. Although Butler notes that a greater proportion of first-class male passengers were saved than third-class women, he theorizes foolishly that this was due more to a conditioned lack of initiative on the part of steerage passengers than to class discrimination. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Revised edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306820986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306820984
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you've read Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember," then you've read this book too. The author tries to present himself as an original researcher who has painstakingly recreated the disaster for readers to immerse themselves in. And yes he does put some interesting tidbits in and he's one of the few Titanic authors who claims the band's last song is "Nearer My God to Thee." The author manages to draw you into the events of the sinking quite well.

But there's where the good points end. This book, by and large, is a direct word for word verbatim of "A Night to Remember." I can take you to multiple pages and show you where if it's not directly lifted from Lord, it comes way too close. If you never read ANTOR, then this ploy works quite well. But if you've practically memorized the book, then this is a severe letdown and you start realizing how much you've been cheated.

If you don't mind rereading somebody else's work in a slightly different way, then you of course you'll love this book. But if you're an honest Titanic buff, then you'll soon forget this book even existed. You can do better.
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Format: Hardcover
Really excellent! This book must have taken a crazy amount of research. The author essentially synthesizes every book, diary, inquiry, and research project about the Titanic into a clear and readable storyline. The book reads like a novel, but is well-footnoted and is clearly grounded in the facts. One of the best features of this book is the way Butler takes quotes and memories from all (credible) sources and goes back to put them in the mouths of people as the events take place. For example, instead of writing that someone remembers John Jacob Astor saying something as the crew was loading life Boat #6, the author actually has Astor say it when he gets to that part of the story. This keeps the story's timeline much more linear and makes it easier to process. It follows the Titanic from her design and building through the investigations of her sinking. Butler wraps up with a "where are they now" synopsis of survivors and details the continuing salvage controversies.

Butler also takes time to explain historical contexts, such as class divisions and social expectations of the era, when he feels it will benefit the readers. These asides really help bring the motivations and behavior of the people involved in this tragedy to life, in a way some caricatures of poor schmucks stuck in steerage fail to do.

My only issues with the book are fairly minor. There is a glossary at the end, but I wish it were at the beginning (or at least referred to). If you aren't the seafaring type, it will help to learn the terms (like greaser, starboard, and bulkhead) before you start reading so that you can understand Butler's descriptions of the ship. You can get by without this, but it would help to know.
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By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
THE AUTHOR CLAIMS TO HAVE RESEARCHED THE TITANIC FOR THIRTY YEARS. WELL, THIRTY YEARS OF MISTAKES WENT INTO THIS BOOK. ALL THE CROSS CHECKING ERRORS AND HISTORICAL MISTAKES FIND THEIR WAY INTO THIS BOOK. HE SEEMS TO HAVE COPIED A NIGHT TO REMEMBER WORD FOR WORD IN SOME SECTIONS. I UNDERSTAND HE IS WRITING A BOOK ON THE LUSITANIA. THAT WILL BE TWO SHIPS HE HAS SUNK.
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By angie on January 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was very interested in learning the true accounts in regards to what happened to Titanic. It's helpful to be able to have discussions with people that never read anything about the disaster beyond seeing the movie, and thinking THAT was the actual account of what happened.
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By A Customer on March 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Overall it's an interesting and thorough comprehensive rehashing of the Titanic sinking. I think he did go overboard in several of his assumptions. e.g. There is no indication from other sources that Major Arthur Peuchen cut a poor figure socially. I've read all the Toronto papers published during that week from the sinking to after the Carpathia docked and though his name was not mentioned as frequently as Mr. Charles Hays, it was near the top of every list of Canadians who were known to be on the ship, usually without explanation of who he was - so he was certainly well known in his home city, which was even then a substantial place. So, if the author assumes unsubstaniated things about one passenger's social standing, can I trust him fully when he discusses the disaster?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my absolute favorite Titanic book I've read yet. I am obsessed with the story of the Titanic and this book has it all from where the White Star Line started, to burying the bodies. Very well researched and easy to read. A must have for any Titanic enthusiast
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Format: Hardcover
"Unsinkable" is a fulfilling read on the subject of the RMS Titanic. It is packed with much history, and tells it in an interesting and desirable way. I learned many new things about the ship itself and the people who became a part of the grand ship immortally, before, during, and after the awful wreck.

"It is a story of heroism, self-sacrifice, and noblesse-oblige, nobility, and prejudice; class and egalitarianism. No writer of fiction, no matter how gifted, would dare present the story of the Titanic as a product of the imagination: it would be too unbelievable. Even as fact it often stretches the bounds of credibility---yet it is all true." (Page IX, Unsinkable)

(As a side-note, I absolutely loved Butler's use of adding a Bible scripture pertaining the subject at the start of every chapter.)

Aside from Walter Lord's books, this is the next book in line that I have found which contains all the information you need to know on the Titanic. Definitely a preferred favorite.

"The story of the Titanic began long before her sailing day, her launching, her building.... She was, during her brief life, the culmination of technology, social, and economic trends that had begun more than a half century before her creation." (Page 221, Unsinkable)
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