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Sweatpants & Books | Unsinkable – A Titanic Reading List

By Shandle Blaha

On this day 105 years ago, the Titanic sank in the waters of the North Atlantic ocean, killing more than 1,500 people. It is still considered one of the deadliest and most memorable peaceful maritime disasters in history. Its sinking led directly to an overhaul of maritime laws stating that all vessels should carry the correct number of regularly inspected lifeboats and conduct mandatory safety drills. This is why even today when you take a cruise, all passengers and crew must participate in a muster drill before setting sail. In honor of this day of remembrance, I compiled a list of books to help expand your knowledge beyond the James Cameron blockbuster.

A Night To Remember by Walter Lord

For most Titanic lovers in a pre-James Cameron world, this is the book (or movie) that started it all. Based on interviews with sixty-three survivors Walter Lord’s bestseller sits at the top of all Titanic aficionados’ reading lists.

“First published in 1955, A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic’s fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain.

Walter Lord’s classic minute-by-minute re-creation is as vivid now as it was upon first publication fifty years ago. From the initial distress flares to the struggles of those left adrift for hours in freezing waters, this semicentennial edition brings that moonlit night in 1912 to life for a new generation of readers.”

 

The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the “Unsinkable” Ship—Titanic by Walter Lord

Revisiting the story thirty years later to separate fact from fiction.

“Three decades after his landmark work A Night to Remember, Walter Lord revisits the Titanic.

Years after A Night to Remember stoked the fires of public interest in the doomed RMS Titanic, the clamor for details about April 14, 1912, has not abated. As die-hard professional and amateur historians—“rivet counters,” they are called—puzzle over minute details of the ship’s last hours, a wealth of facts and myth have emerged. Revisiting the subject more than thirty years after his first study, Lord dives into this harrowing story, whose power to intrigue has only grown a century after the Titanic’s sinking.
Was the ship really christened before setting sail on its maiden voyage? What song did the band play as water spilled over the ship’s bow? How did the ship’s wireless operators fail so badly, and why did the nearby Californian, just ten miles away when the Titanic struck the iceberg, not come to the rescue? Lord answers these questions and more, in a gripping investigation of the night when 1,500 victims were lost to the sea.”

Voyage of the Iceberg: The Story of the Iceberg That Sank the Titanic by Richard G. B. Brown

Wildlife expert Richard Brown offers a unique perspective on a story we all know so well while educating us on the natural history of the North Atlantic ocean.

“This is the story of the most famous iceberg of all time–the iceberg that has gripped the imagination of the world, that humbled human technology and dramatized the wonders and dangers of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Author Richard Brown uses the iceberg’s story to present the natural history of the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic at the turn of the twentieth century. A rich panoply of birds, whales, bears, seals and other ships cross the path of the iceberg. With an expert’s understanding of natural history and an authentic storyteller’s voice, Brown weaves these storylines together as the iceberg slowly drifts away from Greenland and down the coast of Labrador to its fateful encounter with the world’s most famous ship.

With extensive illustrations drawn from volumes of exploration and natural history of the period, this is a beautiful and compelling read. First published in 1983 and championed by publishers worldwide, this reprint of the original edition is accompanied by a brief biographical note on Richard Brown’s career as a research scientist working for the Canadian Wildlife Service.”

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster – A peek at the lives of Titanic’s most rich and famous.

Titanic Survivor by Violet Jessop

Everyone’s heard of “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown, but do you know Violet Jessop? She was a first-class stewardess on board the Titanic who was later nicknamed “Miss Unsinkable” after surviving three liner disasters in her lifetime.

“One awful moment of empty, misty blackness enveloped us in its loneliness, then an unforgettable, agonizing cry went up from 1500 despairing throats, a long wail and then silence and our tiny craft tossing about at the mercy of the ice field.”
For most people, one sinking would be enough. But four years later Violet, now a nurse with the British Red Cross, was on board the World War I hospital ship BRITANNIC when it struck a mine and sank to the bottom of the Aegean. To her, this disaster was even more horrifying– “Just as life seeming nothing but a whirling, choking ache, I rose to the light of day, my nose barely above the little lapping waves. I opened my eyes on an indescribable scene of slaughter, which made me shut them again to keep it out.”

By the end of her story, we have a met a woman who could handle whatever life threw at her with determination and good humor. She knew that only by her own strength of character would she survive. But Titanic Survivor is much more. A unique autobiography for those who want to know how it really felt, a story that could be told only by a Titanic Survivor.”

The Discovery of the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard

A firsthand account from the man who discovered the historic wreckage.

The Discovery of the Titanic is the compelling, firsthand account of Dr. Ballard’s twelve-year quest to find the sunken liner. With the help of dozens of never-before-seen photographs, rare archival pictures, charts, paintings and a 25-inch “photo-mosaic” of the ship, Dr. Ballard recounts the Titanic’s fateful last night and describes the moment-by-moment drama of the expeditions that found and explored her. For the first time, the exact location of the Titanic is revealed and, finally, many of the mysteries that have surrounded her tragic fate are laid to rest. Here is the fascinating concluding chapter to a story that has captured imaginations for almost a century, the dramatic account of the most exciting underwater discovery of our time.”

 

 

882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic by Hugh Brewster

Your guide to all things Titanic. Why is called 882 and a half things? Read it and find out!

“Here is the one book with all of the answers to your questions about the TITANIC! This is the heart-stopping story about the legendary ship–from the building, maiden voyage, and tragic sinking, to its high-tech discovery on the ocean floor. Special features include the making of the James Cameron movie, true-or-false quizzes, and real-life stories of the young people who sailed on the fateful journey. Illustrated with dozens of paintings, diagrams, and rare photographs.”

I also recommend Hugh Brewster’s Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage which is about the Titanic’s wealthiest and most famous passengers.

 

The Truth About The Titanic by Archibald Gracie

Published after his death, Gracie’s account of the nights of the sinking are considered some of the most accurate on record.

“With time running out and the decks awash with the sea, first-class passenger Archibald Gracie was one of the last people to escape the sinking of the Titanic, clinging to an overturned collapsible boat before being rescued. Once safe on the Carpathia, Gracie immediately began writing what has become one of the definitive books on the tragedy. The Truth About the Titanic is Gracie’s detailed account of not just his experience the night of April 15, 1912, but that of each of the lifeboats launched that night, as well as the testimony at the inquiry that followed. Although Gracie died before his book was published, The Truth About the Titanic is recognized as one of the most complete and accurate accounts of the tragedy.”

 

 

Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic by Daniel Allen Butler

Published for the 100 year anniversary of it’s sinking Butler’s well-researched book details the Titanic from construction to collision to cultural icon.

“Just before midnight on April 14, 1912, the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg. Less than three hours later, she lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, having taken with her more than 1,500 of the roughly 2,200 people on board. Even now, a century later, no other ship in history has attracted so much attention, stirred up such powerful emotion, or accumulated as many legends.

“Unsinkable” provides a fresh look at the Titanic‘s incredible story. Following the great ship from her conception to her fateful collision to the ambitious attempts to salvage her right up to the present day, Daniel Allen Butler draws on thirty years of research to explore the tragedy and its aftermath in remarkable depth and detail. The result is a must-read for anyone interested in the Titanic.”

The Loss of the S. S. Titanic by Lawrence Beesley

Beesley’s first-person account of his survival as a second-class passenger was published just 9 weeks after the sinking.

“Lawrence Beesley, a British schoolteacher, was a second-class passenger on the “Titanic” when it hit an iceberg and sank in two and a half hours. This is Beesley’s eyewitness account, written just weeks after the sinking, of his voyage on the “Titanic”, the collision with the iceberg, his hours in Lifeboat 13, and his rescue by the “Carpathia”. A classic account of the story of Titanic. With 6 pages of photos.”

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About Shandle Blaha (151 Articles)
Shandle is the Operations Director for Sweatpants & Coffee. She works from home so she wears yoga pants every day and loves some coffee in her cream and sugar. A rerun of Friends is always on her TV and her stack of books to read is always growing. She and her husband love to travel and you can follow her travels on Instagram at: shandle_spc.

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