Sunday, May 06, 2012

Unsinkable (by Daniel Allen Butler)

I picked up this book on the Titanic sinking last month, and was reading it on the anniversary of the sinking. Well written, very vivid, lots of detail I hadn't known before. A little stingy on pictures. (Especially since the author talked about pictures that then weren't included in the book.)

I noticed two things while reading: one, this guy really loves Walter Lord (and has no use for James Cameron; in the updated afterword, he makes a comment to the effect that A Night to Remember is still the one true Titanic movie). Secondly, there's a little bit of a weird attitude--for instance, he makes this remark about interest in the wreck:

Once the centennial of the Titanic disaster passes in April 2012, the transient, superficial interest of those who habitually ride the cresting wave of whatever is most fashionable at any given moment will inevitably vanish into oblivion, though little if anything of consequence will be lost when that happens.

This is a little disingenuous coming from a guy who just released a special 2012 edition of his book. Are people who are interested in the Titanic around the centennial really all "superficial" and mindless? (I don't include myself, regardless. I've been fascinated with the Titanic for years.)

Anyway in reading the reviews on Amazon, I found out a bunch of rumors about this guy--that he based his book on Walter Lord's without correcting some of Lords errors, that he's belligerent to other historians, that he makes unfounded assumptions. So basically, there are probably better Titanic books out there. I still found a lot to enjoy, though.


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