"The sum and triumph of civilization, guaranteed to be safe and
perfect, our greatest achievement, sinks at a touch, and drowns us,
while nature jeers at us for our folly."
I found this amazing quote in Richard Davenport-Hines' Voyages
of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuildres, Aristocrats, and
the Worlds They Came From. I read that and Building The Titanic: The
Creation of History's Most Famous Ocean Liner by Rod Green the weekend
of my 23rd wedding anniversary (no icebergs in sight on the marriage--
thank Goodness). It was a wealth of information--even for an
affecianado like myself.
Voyages of the Titanic is a veritable Who's Who of the rich and
famous and the anything but--the cast of characters of the tragedy and
its aftermath. A lot of the information is contextualized into a
larger picture. I had always wondered why the Titanic had so few
lifeboats for its number of passengers and crew and why she continued
full speed ahead despite ice warnings. I learned that regulations for
lifeboats had not changed since days when liners were exponentially
smaller. Also Captain Smith was following standard operating
procedure. Although from a 21st century perspective these decisions
would seem to constitute gross negligence, they were due dilligence
for that time in history. Another wonderful insight considers the
officers of the steam powered liner being described as sailors. It
turns out that the technology sea change from wind to steam power had
occurred so recently these men had been trained in the old ways.
There is a wonderful photographic midsection.
Building The Titanic goes into much deeper design and
engineering detail than any other book I've seen. Chapter three, for
example, contains detailed diagrams of every deck. Many photographs
from the actual construction are included. But even the reader like
me whose eyes would glaze over with a recitation of statistics will
find this book captivating. It has an easy reading narrative format,
enlightened by the ample inclusion of anecdotes. The photograps and
other visuals alone are worth the price of the book.
For an unsinkable reading experience try this wonderful non
fiction twosome--especially if you think that you know the Titanic.
On a personal note, we had another wonderful community garden day--
good fun and camaraderie and wonderful veggies to give our seniors.
A great big shout out goes out to the farmers market folks who
contribute generously to our veggie bags.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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