Walter Lord,
The Night Lives On
(Avon, 1986)

When Walter Lord wrote A Night to Remember, the story of Titanic seemed well and truly told.

But there's more, always more, to dredge up about history's most infamous nautical disaster, and in The Night Lives On, published a good 30 years later, Lord answers some of the many unanswered questions about the ship, its voyage, its crew and passengers, and other events surrounding the event and its aftermath.

The publication of this book fits neatly between the discovery of the wreck by Robert Ballard and his team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Titanic craze that followed the release of the 1997 James Cameron film (on which Lord, considered by many the world's premier expert on all things Titanic, served as consultant).

The detail packed into this book is astonishing, and the amount of research that went into it is daunting to consider. In his extremely readable narrative, Lord picks apart many of the mysteries and legends that surround the Titanic, from the music the band played on the deck as she sank to the suitability of her celebrated captain, Edward J. Smith, to command a liner of Titanic's size. Even more fascinating, perhaps, is the blow-by-blow description of the responses of the two closest ships, Carpathia, which mounted a heroic rescue effort, and Californian, which stood by even as its officers watched Titanic's distress rockets and did nothing to assist her until the following morning.

Anyone even remotely interested in the Titanic story should score a copy of The Night Lives On, which brings history alive and lays to rest many of that ill-fated ship's lingering ghosts.

review by
Tom Knapp

20 September 2008

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