Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Night to Remember

 A Night to Remember: The Classic Bestselling Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic
(1955) by Walter Lord

First published almost seventy years ago, Lord's account still remains the gold standard by which books about the doomed first--and last--voyage of the opulent ocean liner are measured. Forty years after the disaster, he was able to interview more than sixty of the survivors and he weaved their searing recollections into a minute-by-minute story of the Titanic's collision with the huge iceberg. He gives us accounts from all viewpoints--from the wealthy first-class passengers to those in steerage to various members of the crew. Even now, over a hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, Lord's book makes it seem like a fresh tragedy. Readers are caught up in the emotions of the crew and passengers as they finally admit the horrifying truth that the "unsinkable" ship is really going to sink.

I'm pretty sure I read the original version of this book at some point in late elementary or junior high school--though it didn't make the somewhat haphazard log of books I've kept since about sixth grade. I found it just as gripping as if I had never read it before and as if I had never heard of the sinking of the Titanic. This may be nonfiction, but the reader is drawn in and feels like a part of the events of that tragic April night in 1912. ★★

First lines (Foreward): In 1898 a struggling author named Morgan Robertson concocted a novel about a fabulous Atlantic liner, far larger than any that had ever been built. Robertson loaded his ship with rich and complacent people and then wrecked it one cold April night on an iceberg.

First lines (Chapter 1): High in the crow's nest of the New White Star Liner Titanic, Lookout Frederick Fleet peered into a dazzling night. It was calm, clear and bitterly cold.

Last line: It is a rash man indeed who would set himself up as a final arbiter of all that happened the incredible night the Titanic went down.

1 comment:

Rick Mills said...

We visited Halifax, Nova Scotia a few years back. This was the closest land to the sinking, and where many recovered bodies were brought. There are three cemeteries in which many of the victims are buried. We visited the two that are open to the public (the third, a Jewish cemetery, is only open by appointment). In one of the cemeteries, the headstones of the victims are arranged in the shape of the ship itself. Very striking and brings the disaster home to the viewer. Thank you for your review of this disaster.