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Titanic Experience: The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship - Beau Riffenburgh

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Genre: History / Author: Beau Riffenburgh / Hardcover / Publication Date: 2011 / Publisher: Andre Deutsch Ltd

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      23.06.2012 15:26
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      An excellent book on the Titanic

      As both my husband and I have an interest in the Titanic, a few years ago I decided to seek out a book that would offer us a wealth of information. The book I eventually decided upon is named The Titanic Experience - The Legend of the unsinkable ship where we are provided with a rich source of information about the ship that sunk on its maiden voyage in April 1912. The selling point for me when making my purchase is that in addition to the book we are provided with photocopies of genuine historical documents together with an audio CD, which makes this book unique as well as truly amazing and this review discusses my thoughts.

      The hard covered book, which consists of 69 thick high quality glossy pages and measures 30 cm x 27 cm is beautifully presented in an extremely sturdy cardboard sleeve, which displays a haunting image of the beautiful cruise liner as it sets off on its maiden voyage from Southampton. On opening up the book we are presented with a photograph displaying all of the passengers who were waiting to board the White Star Line's cruise ship. Contained within a cardboard sleeve on the inside cover is an audio CD where we are able to listen to the evocative accounts of the survivors together with readings performed by actors. We are taken into the contents page of the book where there is an easy to read breakdown of the various chapters and on the opposite page we are provided with a list of the crew who are positioned upon the ship's deck. There is a brief introduction where we learn of the liner's intended journey together with passenger numbers and technical features.

      The first section of the book discusses the age of the liner where we learn of other luxury cruise liners at that time together with their technical specifications such as their weight, knots and the period in time that they were cruising. We are provided with a few images together with details of the individual styles of the liners and their builders. I found this section totally fascinating as we learn of their development with improved customer comfort and how their designs changed over a period of time. What makes this book so unique is that there are photocopies of blueprints where the right hand side of the book opens up to three times its size to enable us to see each of the individual decks. The second section of the book discusses the concept of luxury cruise liners and it is here that we have an envelope hidden within the right hand page where neatly tucked inside are two A3 sized photocopies. One of the copies displays a clear section drawing of the Titanic, which reveals the desks together with the coal storage areas. There is considerable information located on the plan regarding fascinating figures such as the food and its weight that was carried on the ship, the number of crew, lifeboats and the capacity of each. Sadly, these were never to be enough and whilst fascinating, this makes quite harrowing reading.

      I was totally unaware of the reason for the building and development of the Titanic by Harland and Wolff and by reading this book I learned the reasons why and the other ships that were built at the same time. We are provided with full specification details of the Titanic together with images of the team that were involved in its construction. We learn of the glamour of the luxury liner where we are provided with information relating to the first class suites, as the ship was strictly segregated by class. It is interesting to read the list of food that was loaded aboard the Titanic as despite it being over one hundred years ago, the entire list is of foods that we regularly eat today. Tucked in the discretely hidden envelope contained within the page is a photocopy of an advertisement that was displayed on the ship together with a coupon regarding baggage handling. Whilst the book consists of high quality thick pages, the various documents located within the pages are of a much thinner paper, so I always ensure that they are safely replaced before reading any further.

      The book continues to discuss areas such as the workings of the Titanic with accompanying documentation where we are able to study photocopies of the original survey reports that have been completed in handwriting. It is very surreal looking at these pages with their 1912 date stamps, particularly as they were written just days before the ship met its ill-fate. We learn of the Captain, namely Edward J Smith and are able to see a photo of him stood next to the Purser, Hugh McElroy. We are provided with extensive information relating to the Captain together with the numbers of his crew and their positions. Until I read this book I was totally unaware of the prophetic tales and premonitions, which stemmed as far back as 1886 that foretold the ship's horrendous fate. The stories that were being discussed many years before that fateful day were incredibly eerie as so many of the descriptions were so close to what actually happened. We are provided with extensive information of the iceberg together with the collision, which spans over six pages and makes heart wrenching reading. An interesting piece of documentation is the ice warning that was issued by the US Navy on the night of the terrible tragedy. We are given a full account of when and why the ship collided and the events that followed where passengers were given varying instructions by crew members due to the non existence of a public address system. There are sketches throughout these few sections depicting the scenes at that time; all of which are considerably distressing. In addition, there are a number of written reports of radio distress calls that were sent from Titanic as the ship sunk.

      We learn of some of the passengers who refused to leave their cabins as they disbelieved that there was any danger and the eight member orchestra that began playing in an effort to relieve the tension. The book displays photographs of each of the band members and it is remarkable to learn that they remained at their instruments to the very end, which leads me to believe that they persevered in their attempt to calm the distressed passengers. The book discusses in detail some of the passengers that were on the ship and the tragedy of the third class where there are theories that they were locked below the desks. However, the book dismisses these theories although we learn that at some points throughout the ship women were allowed on deck whilst men were prevented from doing so. The book discusses those that stayed afloat in lifeboats in the middle of the ocean and provides us with a number of photographs. We learn of those passengers that were rescued and the harrowing events from some of the survivors. There are a large number of documents towards the end of the book such as various memorandum and letters in relation to the sinking together with photocopies of the account of wages and effects of a deceased seaman namely Ernest Rice. These documents make harrowing reading, as his father had signed to confirm that was next of kin and that any wages or effects were to be paid to him.

      The last few pages of the book discuss the Titanic graveyards and the search and discovery with salvaging the ship. We are provided with coloured photographs of some of the items that were found such as the crockery lying on the bottom of the ocean with many of the dishes having settled in perfect rows and still being fully intact. The final double pages of the book discuss how the luxury liner has been remembered together with its legacy and we are provided with a list of Titanic Memorials; many of which are based throughout the UK with a few being in USA and one in Ireland. The final double pages provide us with a detailed index together with information on further reading.

      I found this book a truly remarkable read where I fully learned about the ship, its passengers and that fateful day. The text was easy to read and offered a rich resource for anyone wanting to fully learn about this subject. It would not be appropriate to say I enjoyed this book, as it is difficult reading, but I hope my review has given you an insight of this captivating book, which had me engrossed throughout. This book provides a wealth of information in relation to the Titanic together with a considerable amount of copied genuine paperwork. For the reasons discussed above, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There is a price of £25 on the underside of the box although I'm sure I paid around £10 - £15 a few years ago. At the time of writing you can purchase a brand new copy of this book from Amazon for £21.28, which is inclusive of postage and packing or you can obtain a used copy from £10.82.




      ISBN - 9-781847-324856
      Written by Beau Riffenburgh
      Published by Carlton Publishing Group, London


      I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.

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