Join me on GoodReads too!
If you’ve read as many books and seen as many documentaries about Titanic as I have, you’ll willingly add this book to your list.
It’s like a little collection of biographies of people whom you already know a little about. Having seen movies and TV series and documentaries, you’ll recognize most names and already have an understanding of how the main characters relate to one another. This book fleshes that out in more detail by providing additional background information and interesting facts about the key players’ lives.
Survivor’s recollections of the sinking itself were compelling, as well as the long cold wait for rescue. (Wouldn’t that make an interesting movie? A couple whose vacation plans are interrupted when their boat (The Carpathia) alters course to rescue Titanic survivors…).
I was not expecting to learn anything new, but I did! Not just trivia like how many napkins and nutcrackers and wine bottles were on board the Titanic (LOTS) but about how so many passengers were bound for Canada for example, and what their plans would have been had they survived the sinking.
The book also includes a lot of details of the days in New York just after the sinking; I found this the most interesting of all because this part of history is often overlooked. Attention is usually always focused on the boat, very little to the people left behind. I had no idea there were so many imposter-grievers! People pretending they lost loved ones in the sinking!!
The “what ever happened to” section at the end where we learn the long term fate of survivors is poignant (although a little ghoulish) because it exposes how an experience like this can impact a person deeply for life.
It was a great read – I highly recommend it.
I read this right after reading “The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989” by Frederick Taylor in the hopes that it would give me more of a people’s view rather then a politician’s view of life - and it did. I could have done without author’s story of how she went about writing the book itself, but still – I got what I wanted out of it and enjoyed it very much.
When WW2 ended, it wasn’t as if a switch was flipped and everyone in Europe went back to their old lives; the place was decimated!! We’ve all seen images of bombed-out cities; the hollow, barely recognizable shells of buildings stretching for miles and miles… multiply that by tens or hundreds of cities all across Europe – where are all the people! What did all the displaced peoples do? Where did they go? How did they rebuild?
This concept always intrigued me and I was happy to come across a book that explored it all in detail.
The first part of the book grabbed me right away, but by the time I was roughly half way through it was getting difficult to keep going. All the death and slaughter and annihilation and destruction, the worst of human nature in the need to seek revenge and retribution… it’s such a downer!!
I was not expecting rainbows and cheerful stories of communities who lived happily ever after, but after a while it was like my brain did not want to take in any more negativity or brutality and I started tuning out. I also found that the intricacies of all the sub-wars going on in Europe until well into the late 40s hard to follow – after a while I got confused and lost track of the details.
What I should have done is put the book aside at the mid-point, go read something else (something “fluffy”) and then come back to it.
I recommend this book if you are interested in the subject matter, but perhaps it’s better to read it in instalments!
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
From the time I was a small child, I was fascinated by World War I, just as Meyer says he was. I asked a lot of questions of my parents and grandparents which were never quite answered. Perhaps they cannot be answered. That is part of the problem with approaching such an immensely complicated subject.
One thing is certain: to understand the second war, one must look to the first. We who were born afterward, the ones whom the German language calls "die Nachgeborenen," have a duty to understand both wars as deeply as we can for obvious reasons.
To attempt to write a survey of World War I is an ambitious endeavor. Meyer's achievement is all the more impressive because he manages to do so in a compelling, interesting way throughout.
As with the author's monumental work on the Tudors, each chapter is dense with information. "Side trips" follow in the form of background sections, which illuminate some of the more complicated issues. These annotations are seamless and full of essential information.
Perhaps as we approach the centennial of the beginning of World War I, interest will be renewed and Meyer's book will reach a wide audience. It certainly deserves to do so. It is an excellent all-in-one choice, a true "desert island" book. If you want to read just one book on World War I, I recommend this to you without hesitation.
I have always loved Robin Sachs' narrations, and this book was no exception. His calm voice and ease in pronouncing foreign languages made listening a joy. I was saddened to read he just passed away on February 1, just days before his birthday. May he rest in peace.