The "unsinkable” Titanic was four city blocks long, with a French “sidewalk café,” private promenade decks, and the latest, most ingenious safety devices… but only twenty lifeboats for the 2,207 passengers and crew on board.
Gliding through a calm sea, disdainful of all obstacles, the Titanic brushed an iceberg. Two hours and forty minutes later, she upended and sank. Only 705 survivors were picked up from the half-filled boats of “the ship that God Himself couldn’t sink.”
Walter Lord’s classic minute-by-minute re-creation is as vivid now as it was upon first publication more than sixty years ago. From the initial distress flares to the struggles of those left adrift for hours in freezing waters, this audio presentation will bring that moonlit night in 1912 to life for a new generation of readers.
©1955 Walter Lord (P)1997 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the most exciting books of this or any year." (New York Times )
“[T]he best Titanic story…. the immediacy engages the reader from the start." (Library Journal)
“[As] seamless and skillful as you’re going to get….it’s clear why this is many a researcher’s Titanic bible.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Walter Lord's account of the Titanic disaster is still the best place to start an exploration of this subject. (The second place to go is Lord's sequel, "The Night Lives On," unfortunately not available as an audiobook at the time this review was written. Wyn Craig Wade's excellent book about the US Senate investigation is scheduled to be released as an audiobook in the new year. Another good resource is John Foster's "Titanic Reader" - though also, unfortunately, unavailable as an audiobook.)
Lord had a massive amount of information at his disposal, including interviews with many of the survivors. He wove the details into a riveting story that begins at the moment of impact and only later goes back to fill in some of the details of the building of the ship and the impact the disaster had on society and maritime law. Many of the individuals are so familiar now from various other book and film treatments that it's hard to remember the time, when the book first appeared some 50 years ago, that many of the details of the story had either not been revealed or had been long forgotten.
The most memorable moment, for me, occurs after the last of the boats has been launched, and two of the upper-class men are making their way to the stern, at that point rising sharply out of the water. Their path is blocked by a sudden explosion on deck of hundreds of third-class passengers who had been held below, by ignorance of the severity of the situation, by ignorance of how to get from steerage to the boat deck, by language problems, and sometimes by locked gates. Most of them died, either pulled down by the ship or in the sub-freezing sea water.
From the standpoint of completeness, the main detail missing from the book is the fact that the ship broke apart before it sank. There was conflicting eyewitness testimony on that point, and the point was only cleared up when the wreck itself was discovered. (It's an interesting comment on the reliability of eyewitness testimony that such a spectacular event, witnessed by hundreds of survivors in the boats, could be uncertain without the corresponding physical evidence.)
Fred Williams has gotten some criticism here for his "monotone" narration. I enjoyed it: it's not so much monotone to me as sober and straightforward. Martin Jarvis's narration of the same book takes a different tack, lightening the overall mood with a tone that sometimes borders, jarringly, on the jocular. Of the two, I much prefer Williams's version.
A new transplant to Long Island, NY that enjoys techno thrillers, apocalyptic, and epic stories. I used to fly through books during my hour commute--but now, I'm in the car about a quarter of that time :(
I did like the fact that this book did start right out with the disaster of the Iceberg hitting the Titanic, and going straight through the plight of the passengers... but, the narrator is monotone throughout the book. I probably got about halfway through and couldn't take it anymore.
This is still an excellent book. Walter Lord published this book in 1955 and it is still an authority on the night the Titanic sank. It seems to have inspired three movies on the subject the last being James Cameron’s masterpiece.
The book wastes no time getting to the tragedy. It opens with the iceberg being spotted and striking the ship. From there Lord follows the passengers into the depths of the night. Lord does little back stories on the passengers to expand on who these passengers were. This tragedy effected the people involved greatly, marking them for life and would be the moment they would relive with the slightest reminder of the worst night of their lives, and thus the title.
Walter Lord’s classic is still a great book despite its age. It is still the standard on the Titanic tragedy, still highly readable, and great.
Fred Williams was good at the reading too, not great but still good.
Yes I would because it was a factual interesting documentary of that fateful night. I discovered answers to questions I have always had in this book. I'm glad the narrator had his soft steady voice, it really showed how everyone didn't believe the trouble they were actually facing.
I know now that the 1st and 2nd class male passengers thought more highly of themselves than they should have and didn't rescue the poorer women and children. Lots of lies and wrong doing were hidden in this tragedy and also many bad things that happened will never happen again without great judgment upon those who attempt to save themselves over being heroes and putting others first.
My students were board on the first page the actor speaks in a monotone voice and there are no special effects to add to the excitiement of the story.
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