30 August 2013

Review: Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson

Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson

Published: 2011 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 391 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Non Fiction, History

Source: Own library


April 14, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. While much has been written about the great ship, her shocking demise, and those who perished, very little has been devoted to the hundreds of survivors. In Shadow of the Titanic, Andrew Wilson offers a moving look at how their lives were affected by living through this catastrophic event.

For the first time ever, those who lived to tell the tale reveal how they coped in the aftermath. Using archival research and interviews with family members, Wilson offers a unique take on this fascinating story. He shows how some survivors used their experience to propel themselves on to fame and how others were wracked with guilt and refused to acknowledge they had been there. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives years later. 

My Thoughts

Oh, look, another Titanic book!  But my attraction to this one was a little bit different than my usual fascination with the sinking of the Titanic - Shadows of the Titanic focuses far more on the aftermath of the sinking - what happened to the passengers, and how their experiences on the Titanic influenced the rest of their lives.

Each chapter focuses on one survivor - from the high profile Madeleine Astor and the controversial Duff-Gordon's through to lesser-known survivors - and examines their lives before and after the Titanic.  There was a little touching base as to what happened during the sinking and in the immediate aftermath, but the majority of the focus was on their lives after the Titanic - whether happy, sad or even controversial.

Although there were several people that I didn't really feel much empathy with, there were other stories that I found incredibly heartbreaking, and Andrew Wilson brings their stories alive without resorting to a whole lot of dry facts which are the common danger in non-fiction.

Shadows of the Titanic also touches on the public reaction to the Titanic and the attention that the last survivors received in their public lives which really helped reiterate just how many people are fascinated by Titanic and the survivors themselves.

One thing that I found slightly lacking was the focus on the 'average' passengers, and that may be simply because their stories were either not as accessible, or not as glamorous, but I would have loved to know a little less about some of the more famous survivors, and more about the people that are rarely discussed - the people that lost everything and had to start again from scratch.

I'll probably never completely get over my fascination with Titanic, but Shadows of the Titanic left me feeling that I knew much more about the passengers and how the disaster changed their lives.  If you have an interest in the passengers of the Titanic and how it affected them in the long term, Shadows of the Titanic is definitely a great choice.

1 comment:

  1. ::runs out to purchase a copy of this book IMMEDIATELY::

    Yet just another reason you and I are bookish soulmates... macabre fascination with the Titanic. If you tell me you love Jack the Ripper next, I just might have to come and propose to you. Just sayin...



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