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Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic (original 1998; edition 2012)

by Daniel Allen Butler

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190562,147 (4.14)1
Member:MerryMary
Title:Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic
Authors:Daniel Allen Butler (Author)
Info:Da Capo Press (2012), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Titanic (Steamship), nonfiction, disasters, survival

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Unsinkable: The Full Story of RMS Titanic by Daniel Allen Butler (1998)

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“It has been said that Titanic is the third most recognized word in the world, following ‘God’ and ‘Coca-cola’ “. The story of the sinking has been told over and over from several different perspectives, but usually by those who have an axe to grind or who wish to cast aspersions on one ethnic group of the passengers or crew or another. Revisionists have tried to blame different sets of people, or absolve others, for example, holding the builders to a set of standards that were not in place until many years later. Butler has written a straight narrative history that illuminates the myths that have been surrounding the ship’s accident over the past decades without the “moralizing, social leveling, finger pointing, or myth making.

By the launch date of the Titanic transatlantic steaming had reached a level of safety unheard of with any other form of transportation. Only four people had died in the forty years prior to the Titanic’s sinking, so a level of overconfidence and complacency was perhaps not unreasonable.

Titanic was the first of a planned set of three ships. The first to be launched was the Olympic, and the Titanic was to be followed by the Gigantic. Many modifications were made to the Titanic after the seas trials of the Olympic. All were owned by the White Star line that had just been purchased by J. P. Morgan who was trying to create a transportation monopoly that would stretch all the way from Europe to California. By this time he owned all the steamship lines except Cunard that was desperately seeking government assistance to fight off his takeover bid. A massive fare war erupted. At one point steerage fares could be had to America for as little as £2. This contrasted with the one-way fare on the Titanic for the most luxurious suites of about $80,000 in 1997 dollars. The robber barons who enjoyed traveling in style could easily afford it.

One unusual feature on the Titanic was the configuration of the engines. The ship had two reciprocating engines and a low pressure steam turbine that efficiently used the excess low pressure steam from the other engines, but it could not be operated in reverse. This was not thought to be a defect, but it made emergency reverse difficult. The 162 furnaces that heated water in the 29 boilers required the services of over two hundred men around the clock and used about 600 tons of coal per day.

The ship sailed just before the end of the great coal strike that managed to hurt most those people it was intended to help. The effect on the Titanic was that because coal was in such short supply, two other White Star ships had their sailings canceled in order to fill Titanic’s bunkers. It was rushed aboard and not wet down properly causing a fire to begin that smoked and smoldered the entire abbreviated journey.

The ship itself met and, in some cases, exceeded all the Board of Trade safety regulations. In fact, the inspector, the hated Captain Clarke, was known to be the most persnickety of all the B. O. T. inspectors. He passed the ship. The ship had more than the number of required lifeboats even though they were far short of being able to carry all of the passengers and crew. The theory at the time was that lifeboats were merely to be used to transfer crew and passengers from a sinking ship to the rescue vessel. A complicated formula was used to calculate the number of lifeboats based on the cubic foot capacity. The disaster was to result in rewriting the regulations regarding lifeboat capacity. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Great book, gives everything you'd ever want to know about the sinking of the Titanic. Including the building of the ship and the inquiry afterwords. Some of the heartwrenching stories of the passengers are also related. ( )
  charlie68 | Jun 4, 2009 |
If you wanted to read of the magnificient Titanic, this is a great book. It will tell you everything you need to know. "Unsinkable" helped me with my research paper. ( )
1 vote cheeroosee19 | Mar 18, 2009 |
This book certainly stands up to its subtitle. Although the author lists a few titles of the books he used as sources, his extensive research also included court transcripts from England & America, records concerning the collection of wreckage & debris, of interviews with the survivors, traveling to several other countries to research the records of safety regulations on ships at that time, & the different memorials erected to the people that did not survive.
It is the best book I have read about the disaster. ( )
1 vote TheCelticSelkie | Feb 27, 2007 |
As a novice Titanic 'enthusiast' (for lack of a better description), this serves as a very good introduction. Although technical aspects of the Titanic's story aren't neglected, much focus is given to the people on the Titanic, once again giving them life and being of much more relevance than 'Jack and Rose' -- the social commentary in particular is much appreciated, for placing the incident in the proper historical context. ( )
1 vote viviena | May 26, 2006 |
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There go the ships, and Leviathan...
--Psalm 104:26
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To Eleanor, who believed.
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Foreword (2012): It has been said that "Titanic" is the third most widely recognized word in the world, following "God" and "Coca-Cola."
Prologue: It was a force of nature.
Chapter 1: It was just a few minutes before noon on May 31, 1911.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 081171814X, Hardcover)

The familiar story of the RMS Titanic--from her tragic 10-second encounter with an iceberg to her descent to the bottom of the ocean some three hours later, taking with her more than 1,500 lives--still looms large in the popular imagination. Daniel Butler, a researcher and archivist, worked on this book for 30 years, intensively compiling facts not only about the event, but also about the characters who played an important role, from the actions of Captain Smith and his crew to the inescapable fate of the third-class passengers. He also offers the startling revelation of a nearby ship which ignored the Titanic's distress call because the shipmates were afraid to awaken their captain.

Unsinkable explores every facet of the Titanic's history, from its conception to a modern-day researcher's attempts to salvage the ship. The author presents a contemporary view of the crew and the passengers aboard, creating a better understanding of the time and the social psyche that played a role in the disaster. Also of note is Butler's enlistment of a clinical psychologist to analyze Captain Smith's mental state as the drama unfolded before him. Butler's passionate yet balanced narrative permits readers to conclude for themselves who or what was ultimately responsible for sinking the unsinkable ship.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:22 -0400)

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"This is a history 'of the disaster and aftermath, drawing on first-person accounts and solid secondary sources.'" Libr J.

(summary from another edition)

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