25 May 2013

Review: The Night Lives On by Walter Lord

The Night Lives On by Walter Lord

Published: 1986

Pages: 244 (paperback)

Genre/s: Non Fiction, History

Source: Own library


Years after A Night to Remember stoked the fires of public interest in the doomed RMS Titanic, the clamor for details about April 14, 1912, has not abated. As die-hard professional and amateur historians—“rivet counters,” they are called—puzzle over minute details of the ship’s last hours, a wealth of facts and myth have emerged. Revisiting the subject more than thirty years after his first study, Lord dives into this harrowing story, whose power to intrigue has only grown a century after the Titanic’s sinking. Was the ship really christened before setting sail on its maiden voyage? What song did the band play as water spilled over the ship’s bow? How did the ship’s wireless operators fail so badly, and why did the nearby Californian, just ten miles away when the Titanic struck the iceberg, not come to the rescue? Lord answers these questions and more, in a gripping investigation of the night when 1,500 victims were lost to the sea.

My Thoughts

When James Cameron's Titanic was released in 1997 I was 15 years old, and after seeing the movie I became completely obsessed with reading every single book about Titanic that I could get my hands on.  Yes, it was probably helped by the fact that I loved Leonardo di Caprio, but more than that I was infinitely fascinated by the glamour of the ship and the way that so many people died on that dark, freezing night.

Although I read a lot of books about it at that time, it was only last year that I read A Night to Remember, probably one of the most famous books ever written about the Titanic.  Walter Lord won me over with A Night to Remember - it felt like sitting down with someone to talk about it over tea and biscuits rather than being lectured at with cold, hard facts, so when I came across The Night Lives On a few months ago I grabbed a copy.

In The Night Lives On, Lord focuses more on the causes and aftermath of the disaster.  The information gathering was obviously painstaking and thorough, and he works hard to ensure that all potential sides of a story are told without bias - from the explanation on why ship safety was so lax (a lot of ship owners had their fingers in that pie), the actual damage caused by the iceberg, the actions and reactions of the Carpathia and the Californian, through to the salvage attempts from right after the sinking up until the first sightings of the ship in the 1980's.

Although it was published more than 30 years after A Night to Remember, Walter Lord's writing style is still the same - it's not stuffy or dry and in fact it's almost conversational, like someone telling you a story rather than reciting a whole bunch of old facts and figures.

If you have (or had!) an interest in the Titanic, The Night Lives On certainly covers a whole bunch of subjects that aren't often touched on in other Titanic books, and does so in an interesting, readable way.


  1. I haven't read either books even though I consider myself a Titanic History buff. I might have to remedy that sometime in the review. Great Review it sounds like a lovely read.

  2. I have always had an interest in Titanic, Leonardo Di Caprio may have a part in that, too!
    But I love the scary idea of all those people dying at one night
    I have not heard of these two books before, but they look intriguing.
    Your reader,



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...