I’m not quite sure how it happened. I was bobbing along, minding my own business, when two books about the R.M.S. Titanic jumped out of the store and sailed onto my bookshelves. Over time, more and more Titanic books cruised in until I had an entire collection of them. And now as a history lover, I’m immersed in them. I can’t stop diving into these books when I’m in the mood for history. I guess I’ll just have to go with the flow.
The first book was Titanic: An Illustrated History by Don Lynch and James Marschall. This book features Marschall’s wonderful illustrations as well as painstaking recreations of the wreck from haunting underwater photographs. The second book to float into my collection was A Night To Remember, Walter Lord’s minute-by-minute account of the accident. Other Titanic books have reeled me in as well:
1. James Cameron’s Titanic, by James Cameron: As a movie/history lover, I couldn’t pass up this one. And since it has behind-the-scenes photographs, that was even more tempting.
2. The Last Days of the Titanic: Photographs and Mementos of the Tragic Maiden Voyage, by E. E. O’Donnell: It contains some unique images, including the great cover photo where the photographer is on the dock, looking upward at Captain Smith and others leaning over the side of the ship and looking downward at the photographer.
3. Inside the Titanic, by Ken Marschall: A kid’s book with cutaway views above and below the waterline. I bought it for a relative and liked it so much I bought a copy for myself.
4. The Titanic: End of A Dream, by Wyn Craig Wade: It contains fascinating stories from the British and American investigations after the disaster. Surviving crew members and passengers gave their personal testimonies for both courts. If you’re interested in knowing what these people had to say, visit the Titanic Inquiry Project, which has the transcripts from both the U.S. Senate and the British Board of Trade.
5. Titanic: Fortune and Fate, by Beverly McMillan: This book contains letters, postcards and other mementos. I like to read the letters and postcards to glimpse the minds and hearts of their writers.
The 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster is coming up about one month from now (April 15, 2012). Prepare for the deluge, people. I’ve already seen blogs and documentaries mentioning it and wouldn’t be surprised to see reams of newspaper articles, magazine articles and perhaps even another book.
What IS it about this ship that still has us so fascinated with it, 100 years later? I think many Titanic enthusiasts enjoy playing the “what if?” game with the Titanic‘s story (“What if the ship had been moving slower? What if the ship had enough boats for everyone? What if I’d been in that situation — how would I have reacted?”). Others are fascinated by Titanic’s eternal mysteries, such as what happened to the jewel-encrusted copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that someone was carrying.
I guess the Titanic attracts me for two reasons. One reason is the ship’s sheer magnificence. The other is the secrets that Titanic still holds, locked away and crumbling under 13,000 feet of icy seawater. Like everybody else, I’ll continue to read the articles, watch the documentaries, pore over the books and visit Titanic museum exhibits. It’s an addiction, but a fun one.