Wednesday, October 05, 2011

[Book Review] A NIGHT TO REMEMBER by Walter Lord


Narrative nonfiction was discussed during September's "What's Your Flavor" session at the Central Library. This is a review from one of the class participants.

Becky reviews A NIGHT TO REMEMBER by Walter Lord (Holt, 1955)

The unsinkable ship Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. A Night to Remember tells the story of the last hours of Titanic and her passengers, from the sighting of the iceberg to the moment she sank beneath the cold and icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Reports say that Carpathia (the first ship on the scene after the Titanic sank), picked up 705 survivors from the lifeboats. However, at 6:15 p.m. on April 15, 1912, word arrived from the ship Olympic that the Titanic sank at 2:20 a.m. and that the Carpathia was on the way to New York with 675 survivors. The actual estimate of lives lost varies to some degree, but the best seemed to come from the British Board of Trade.

An interesting fact is that the Titanic sent the first SOS, which had recently become the new international distress signal replacing “CQD.” While popular belief is that the band played “Nearer My God to Thee” as the ship sank, actual accounts say that a song called “Autumn” was being played. This song was an Episcopal hymn, but even that has been called into question.

The loss of the Titanic brought two things into focus at the time: class distinction and the uncertainty of anything. For me, as a person living in the 21st century an interesting side note is that married women were known only as Mrs. [husband's full name], and not by their own first names, or as a distinct separate entity.

Websites of interest:

Becky Graham, Central Library

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