Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town

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Overview


In his famous book A Night to Remember, Walter Lord described the sinking of the Titanic as "the last night of a small town." Now, a hundred years after her sinking, historian John Welshman reconstructs the fascinating individual experiences of twelve of the inhabitants of this tragically short-lived floating village.

In Titanic, Welshman offers a minute-by-minute account of the doomed liner's last hours, based on a representative cross-section of those who sailed in her: men ...

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Overview


In his famous book A Night to Remember, Walter Lord described the sinking of the Titanic as "the last night of a small town." Now, a hundred years after her sinking, historian John Welshman reconstructs the fascinating individual experiences of twelve of the inhabitants of this tragically short-lived floating village.

In Titanic, Welshman offers a minute-by-minute account of the doomed liner's last hours, based on a representative cross-section of those who sailed in her: men and women, old and young, passengers and crew, wealthy and poor. He introduces the reader to a fascinating cast of twelve eye-witnesses, including Arthur H. Rostron, Captain of the Carpathia, the first ship to reach the scene; Charles Lightoller, the Titanic's Second Officer; Archibald Gracie, a wealthy American cotton plantation owner; Elin Hakkarainen, a young migrant from Finland, travelling Third Class; and Edith Brown, a teenager from South Africa. The book also documents the experiences of an Assistant Wireless Operator, a Stewardess, an amateur military historian, a governess, a teacher, and a domestic servant. The survivor accounts allow Welshman to construct a graphic and compelling picture of events on a day-to-day and hour-by-hour basis, providing vivid glimpses of the tragedy as seen from their respective vantage points. In addition, Welshman tells the story of where these twelve people were from and what happened to those who survived in the years afterwards. Finally, the author, a respected social historian, offers many insights into nineteenth-century social class, migration, work, and the broader history of Northern Ireland.

Drawing on published autobiographical accounts, diaries, private papers, archival materials, and a wide array of other sources, Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town offers a unique account of one of the most memorable disasters in modern history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his newest work, Welshman (Churchill’s Children: The Evacuee Experience in Wartime Britain) “seeks to re-balance the narrative, away from First Class passengers towards the experiences of those in Second and Third.” He does so by focusing on 11 passengers and crew members plus the captain of the Carpathia, the ship that rescued the Titanic’s survivors. Using these people’s own recollections as well as their published and unpublished accounts, Welshman paints a detailed picture of the ill-fated ship’s auspicious launching, comfortable voyage, middle-of-the-night sinking, and the subsequent lives of its survivors. While his penchant for explaining each event from various perspectives often leads to repetition, Welshman writes with sensitivity that forgoes melodrama in favor of honest emotions. His prose is especially poignant when describing the quiet dignity displayed by most survivors and victims. By peppering the personal tales with historical asides about the boat’s construction and trials, the wireless telegraph, lifeboats, immigration, and the true cause of the sinking, Welshman has created an important account that humanizes one of the most oft-dramatized disasters of the 20th century. 25 b&w photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal
Welshman (history, Lancaster Univ.; Churchill's Children) takes his title from a passage in Walter Lord's A Night To Remember and focuses on 12 survivor accounts. He aims to "build upon and challenge" Lord's book and "rebalance the narrative" away from men to women, etc., but in fact he uses many of Lord's sources, and in similar ways. And can the stories of just 12 people stand for a "small town"? The concluding chapters—one on the lives of the survivors after the sinking and another on the ship's relationship to the city of Belfast—are interesting. VERDICT While this work doesn't entirely succeed in its stated purpose, and the lack of specific citations is frustrating, it is still a good read. Recommended to readers new to the subject. (Illustrations not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199595570
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/24/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Welshman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Lancaster University. He is the author or editor of six books on twentieth-century British social history, including Churchill's Children: The Evacuee Experience in Wartime Britain.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Last Night of a Small Town
1. 'The Biggest Anchor in the World'
2. 'Like a Big Expectant Family'
3. 'A Wonderful Passage Up To Now'
4. 'Ice, Flat Like a Pocket Watch'
5. 'We Have Collision with Iceberg'
6. 'Latitude 41? 46' N., Longitude 50? 14' W'
7. 'She's Gone, Lads; Row Like Hell'
8. 'A Dark Speck on the Horizon'
9. 'Arranged for Your Exclusive Story'
10. 'Mr Beesley's Simple Narrative'
Notes Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    :)

    I love the book so far you should read it !!"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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