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First published in 1955 A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic's fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew both noble and ignominious Some sacrificed their lives while others fought like animals for their own survival Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers trapped below decks sought help in vain

10 thoughts on “A Night to Remember

  1. says:

    “All the lifeboats together could carry 1178 people On this Sunday night there were 2207 on board the Titanic This mathematical discrepancy was known by none of the passengers and few of the crew but most of them wouldn’t have cared anyhow The Titanic was unsinkable Everybody said so When Mrs Albert Caldwell was watching the deck hands carry up luggage at Southampton she asked one of them ‘Is this ship really unsinkable?’ ‘Yes lady’ he answered ‘God himself could not sink this ship’” Walter Lord A Night to Remember James Cameron ruined the Titanic Don’t get me wrong It’s a near great movie that – leaving aside the tired mismatched love story and the atrocious dialogue – has one of the five best set piece action seuences in the long history of Hollywood Still the movie ruined Titanic at least for those who already loved her Sure it was nice having the beautiful liner with her sleek lines and awesome symmetry once again dominating the world The downside though was steep Now anyone who's ever been interested in the subject must contend with sideways glances from people who assume your curiosity was piued by the teenage catnip pairing of a young Kate Winslet and a young Leonardo DiCaprio “flying” on Titanic’s prowCameron’s Titanic ruled cinemas in 1997 98 breaking records and hoarding awards and filling the airwaves with Celine Dion This came as a surprise to a lot of folks but not those who had already been on the bandwagon who recognized that the sinking of the Titanic is a near perfect story of an incredibly imperfect voyage Certainly Walter Lord would not have been surprised Back in 1955 when A Night to Remember was first published Titanic’s fame had ebbed a bit This tends to happen after a world war a depression and a second bigger world war has killed wounded or dislocated tens of millions of people Indeed when Lord started corresponding with Titanic survivors many of them expressed skepticism that anyone still cared People did People cared a great dealLord described himself in his own words as a writer of “living history” He was an anecdotal historian who approached great big sweeping events through the perspectives of the individuals who lived them Lord used the memories experiences and words of various eyewitnesses to tell his story During his career he effectively utilized this techniue across a variety of subjects including Pearl Harbor the battle of Midway and the siege of the Alamo but never so effectively as in his certifiably classic telling of the sinking of the RMS Titanic Lord's style is encompassed in the first two paragraphsHigh in the crow's nest of the New White Star Liner Titanic Lookout Frederick Fleet peered into a dazzling night It was calm clear and bitterly cold There was no moon but the cloudless sky blazed with stars The Atlantic was like polished plate glass; people later said they had never seen it so smoothThis was the fifth night of the Titanic's maiden voyage to New York and it was already clear that she was not only the largest but also the most glamorous ship in the world Even the passengers' dogs were glamorous John Jacob Astor had along his Airedale Kitty Henry Sleeper Harper of the publishing family had his prize Pekingese Sun Yat senRight away you can see the amazing storytelling structure that Lord employs He starts in the crow's nest moments before the collision with the iceberg He identifies one of his main characters Fred Fleet and then segues into a short riff on First Class pets In a subseuent paragraph Lord circles back to Fleet spotting the iceberg Fleet warns the bridge and a tense 37 seconds elapse before the ship strikes the berg on its port side At this point Lord's tale starts to flower and expand He leaves Fleet and the crow's nest to tell the stories of other people on different parts of the ship a uartermaster on the aft docking bridge; a steward in First Class; a night baker baking rolls; passengers from all three classes Lord doesn't employ a straight linear narrative Rather A Night to Remember resembles a mosaic An overarching picture of the tragedy is created out of dozens of individual accounts Lord's genius is in weaving all these strands into a cohesive whole He has a keen eye for dramatic moments and telling uotes When he describes the ship's break up he does so by listing and contrasting all the different items breaking loose and crashing together from the 29 boilers to a jeweled copy of the Rubaiyat from 30000 eggs to “a little mantel clock in B 38” Lord is also a strong writer which allows him to maintain the integrity of the personal observations of the survivors while still delivering an exciting narrative It should be noted that Lord interviewed 63 survivors for A Night to Remember and his letters with these men and women have become an important source for later Titanic historians Down down dipped the Titanic's bow and her stern swung slowly up She seemed to be moving forward too It was this motion which generated the wave that hit Daly Brown and dozens of others as it rolled aftLightoller watched the wave from the roof of the officer's uarters He saw the crowds retreating up the deck ahead of it He saw the nimbler ones keep clear the slower ones overtaken and engulfed He knew this kind of retreat just prolonged the agony He turned and facing the bow dived in A Night to Remember is novelistic in its presentation eschewing analysis and debate For instance rather than engage in a discussion about the band's final song Lord simply chooses the Episcopal hymn Autumn instead of Nearer My God To Thee If you desire to know why Lord made that choice you can read his follow up The Night Lives On which is an in depth treatment of a number of fascinating if ultimately meaningless uestions including First Officer William Murdoch's alleged suicide an event blithely passed off as gospel in Cameron's Titanic much to the chagrin of Murdoch's surviving relatives I was five years old when Titanic was discovered and probably ten when I read this book for the first time Back then the story of Titanic had real magic Yes it is human tragedy first and foremost; but it is also tragedy in the dramatic sense the noblesse oblige of “women and children first;” Guggenheim dressing in his best to “die as a gentleman;” Ida Strauss refusing to leave her husband who was not allowed in a lifeboat; the death of a titan set to music and rockets and finally the screams of fifteen hundred people dropped into a freezing sea Today the only time Titanic is mentioned is when some new book or documentary tries to use cutting edge science to highlight some trivial new piece of evidence that is then blown out of all proportion That is to be expected I suppose Even as the Titanic’s hulk rusts away on the Atlantic seabed there are those looking to sueeze a few bucks from her memory Still the endless slicing and dicing the extreme forensic examinations the listing of minutiae cause me to forget why I gravitated towards the Titanic in the first place Lord tells the Titanic story the way I hope it happened and the way that the survivors remembered it Knowing what we do about witness perception and the tendency to embellish Lord might have been a bit critical of his interviewees I mean did Guggenheim really take the time to change into his dinner jacket before drowning? Did Captain Smith really step off the plunging bow and swim off into the night? No one can say for certain yet some of these stories just sound too good to be true They sound like bad fiction rather than good history On the other hand a lot of the witnesses turned out to be pretty darn perceptive The great mystery that Ballard solved in 1985 was that Titanic had broken in two Of course young Jack Thayer had already said that seventy three years earlier because it had happened fifty yards from his seventeen year old eyes While the story of the Titanic has moved on it has not entirely left A Night to Remember behind It is despite its minor flaws still the best single book on the Titanic Based on Lord's closeness to the actual participants – as well as his enormous talent – it will likely always retain that position

  2. says:

    Wow I can see why this book is considered a classic in narrative nonfiction In fact I picked up this book because Nathaniel Philbrick himself a master writer told the New York Times that this was one of his favorite books of the genre The other nonfiction book he mentioned was Alfred Lansing's Endurance which I also agree was excellent A Night to Remember gives a gripping detailed account of what happened the night the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic Ocean killing than 1500 people Originally published in 1955 Walter Lord had interviewed survivors and reviewed documents to create this incredible narrative of the events surrounding April 15 1912 I also liked the context Lord gave to the tragedyOverriding everything else the Titanic also marked the end of a general feeling of confidence Until then men felt they had found the answer to a steady orderly civilized life For 100 years the Western world had been at peace For 100 years technology had steadily improved For 100 years the benefits of peace and industry seemed to be filtering satisfactorily through society In retrospect there may seem less grounds for confidence but at the time most articulate people felt life was all rightThe Titanic woke them up Never again would they be uite so sure of themselves In technology especially the disaster was a terrible blow Here was the unsinkable ship — perhaps man's greatest engineering achievement — going down the first time it sailedBut it went beyond that If this supreme achievement was so terribly fragile what about everything else? If wealth meant so little on this cold April night did it mean so much the rest of the year? Scores of ministers preached that the Titanic was a heaven sent lesson to awaken people from their complacency to punish them for a top heavy faith in material progress If it was a lesson it worked — people have never been sure of anything since I think Mr Lord has overlooked a few dozen wars in this elouent and yet untrue sentence including the American Civil War the Napoleonic wars and innumerable conflicts involving the British Empire Other than that this passage is greatI listened to this book on audio and was so engrossed I finished it in one session Highly recommendedFavorite uoteWhat troubled people especially was not just the tragedy — or even its needlessness — but the element of fate in it all If the Titanic had heeded any of the six ice messages on Sunday if ice conditions had been normal if the night had been rough or moonlit if she had seen the berg 15 seconds sooner — or 15 seconds later if she had hit the ice any other way if her watertight bulkheads had been one deck higher if she had carried enough boats if the Californian had only come Had any one of those 'ifs' turned out right every life might have been saved But they all went against her — a classic Greek tragedy

  3. says:

    This was my first nonfiction book that I read regarding the Titanic It was originally published in 1955 and its prose has remained the same after several reprints throughout the years The 1950's vernacular used for the narrative helped to immerse myself into the reading experience and to say that I enjoyed it would be an understatement I found this book to be an emotional read and got swept up on several occasions with tears as well as bouts of anger during my reading progress This intellectual author produced a well researched accounting of the final hours of the Titanic and its passengers The chapters advance in a fashion to show a timeline from right before the Titanic hits the iceberg to the end when the remaining passengers and crew make it back to land safely after the sinking Although I think that the execution of this wasn't fully perfect as some timeframes seemed to go back and forth at different intervals for the author to reference particular people or moments; I do feel that the author was able to keep the flow of the narrative together so as not to lose the reader or to diminish the severity of the incident I reveled in the numerous pages included within this book regarding the facts about the ship's construction passenger list naming the people that were saved as well as those souls that were lost at sea details about some interviews that took place both in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America after the tragic event and a couple of diagrams of where some events on the ship took place during the voyage While I did find it difficult at times to keep track of all of the names thrown at me I do not feel that it hindered my reading experience The sinking of the Titanic is a disastrous and devastating event that has taken place in our world's history and is one that will never be forgotten If you are someone that is looking for a mesmerizing nonfiction book or if you are like me and are fascinated with the Titanic then I endorse this book highly

  4. says:

    James Cameron's vision of the Titanic decided that the most compelling and lucrative story would focus on two young lovers who had just met Looking at the passenger manifest where survivors are listed in italics and the dead are not suggests how blandly offensive this vision is It's hard to argue with the chivalry of women and children first but for family after family particularly among first class passengers fathers and husbands went down with the ship while mothers wives and kiddies and often the female servants of the very wealthy rowed away in lifeboats Arthur Ryerson scion of the steel and iron family took off his lifebelt when he saw that his wife's maid Victorine didn't have one Ryerson his wife and three of their children were returning from France to the US for the funeral of his son who had been thrown from a car the week before Ryerson Senior perished John Jacob Astor asked if he could accompany his wife who was pregnant into a boat; reuest denied She and her maid survived; Astor and his manservant died A strange calm descended over the doomed elite Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet changed into their evening clothes so they could go down like gentlemen Mrs Isador Straus refused to leave her husband the founder of Macy's and they watched the hubbub arms entwined as in another part of the ship steerage passengers many of whom didn't speak English clutched rosaries and prayed But character was not uniformly spread amongst the nobility As the ship disappeared beneath the waves Lady Cosmo Duff Gordon in Lifeboat 1 remarked to her secretary There is your beautiful nightdress goneLord engagingly writes of these swellsThere was a wonderful intimacy about this little world of the Edwardian rich There was no flicker of surprise when they bumped into each other whether at the Pyramids a great favorite the Cowes regatta or the springs at Baden Baden They seemed to get the same ideas at the same time and one of these ideas was to make the maiden voyage of the largest ship in the worldThe sinking of the Titanic marked the end of an era in many ways Lord argues fairly convincingly The American aristocracy ceased being noble and became merely wealthy The sense of noblesse oblige went People continued to make fortunes but the war and the income tax bit into the unrelieved joyousness of being obscenely moneyed Men would go on being brave but never again would they be brave in uite the same way

  5. says:

    this is a very good book about the sinking of the titanic probably the best and most accurate of the books written about the titanic disaster a moviea night to remember was made from it and it tells you what really happened instead of exaggerations and lies so it is without a doubt among the best of the books written about the titanic disaster and I would recommend it to anyone would is interested in the titanic and wants to read a true account

  6. says:

    Today's cruise ships are basically floating cities Able to carry than 6000 people the Oasis of the Seas Royal Caribbean Line is 5 times the size of the Titanic But back in its day than 100 years ago the Titanic was a wonder It took thousands of men than 2 years to build her Titanic was 4 city blocks long and could carry than 2400 people She was newshe was massiveand she was doomed 2 years to buildand the largest ship afloat in April 1912 took just under 3 hours to sink Walter Lord tells the story of one of the most famous ocean disasters from before the ship struck an iceberg to the aftermath of the sinking Walter Lord interviewed than 60 survivors of the disaster to write the book A Night to Remember was an instant bestseller in 1955 A film version was released in 1958 Lord even consulted on the filming of the 1997 movie Titanic I'm not sure why the fate of the Titanic is such a compelling story It might be the huge loss of lives the loss of such a grand ship on its first voyage passengers with such disparate lives all doomed to the same fateor a combination of all of it First Class passenger John Jacob Astor one of the wealthiest men in the world in 1912 drowned in the Atlantic alongside poor immigrants from steerage It hits home when you compare ticket prices in today's moneythose who paid the euivalent of 50000 for a first class passage died alongside those who struggled to raise the 460 for a steerage ticket Lord hits home with the difference in treatment of the classes on board when he points out that only one first class child diedbut 52 children from steerage perished Some passengers in steerage never even made it up to the boat deck for a chance of a seat in a lifeboat I'm sure it's his interviews with so many survivors that makes this book so realistic His descriptions are vivid and made me feel like I was almost there I listened to the audio version of this book A combination of Lord's story telling and Fred Williams excellent narration kept me engrossed in the story from start to finish I have read many many books on the Titanic watched movies listened to podcastsfor me it's a story I just seem obsessed with It's horrificand mesmerizing at the same time Lord makes the story about the peoplenot just the event He tells the story of an Italian woman crying for her children on board the Carpathia only to be reunited with them both; the first class passenger who refused to leave her Great Dane on board the ship so perished with her dog; and the stunned silence of the women in the lifeboats as they realized they had just witnessed than 1000 people drown It's about than a luxurious boat that didn't survive its first Atlantic crossingit's about the loss of than 1500 people and the story of the last 3 hours of their lives Great book The audio Blackstone is just shy of 5 12 hours long Fred Williams does a great job of narrating He reads at a steady pace and has a nice voice Very entertaining listening experience Walter Lord also wrote books about Dunkirk and the attack on Pearl Harbor I've got both on my TBR list now

  7. says:

    This is sort of the primary classic book on the Titanic disaster Published in 1955 it's short and smoothly written covering the viewpoints of a large cast and changing centers of perspective with ease There have been four movies made about the Titanic in the sound era there were several silent movies about or loosely based on it I've seen three of the four and have the other one on VHS to watch The first was a 1943 German Nazi produced spectacle that mainly was made it seemed as an anti British propaganda piece The special effects were so good that the ship sinking model shots were re used in the 1958 Brit version based on this book A Night to Remember In the interim Hollywood made an attempt in 1953 called simply Titanic starring Barbara Stanwyck For some reason I've never found the time to watch it even though I own it see 2016 addendum bottom of review I find it hard to imagine that it could surpass the 1958 British film a soberly compelling version that remains my favorite It seems most in spirit of the bookJames Cameron's 1997 version is for little girls BlahReading onrating soon to comeThis is a breeze to read Very vivid full of detail The only thing that causes a slight slowdown is the sheer number of characters To Lord's credit he reminds us freuently of the positions and titles of the characters so we don't have to go back or jog our memories trying to remember who these people are I love when authors do that I'm for easy As I'm reading this I'm realizing how well the 1958 film captured this account and how badly the hokey 1997 film didFINALEnjoyed this greatly I especially enjoyed Lord's analysis of the class snobbery and attitudes of the time that led to a higher percentage of deaths among the third class passengers vs the first and second classes and the media's disinterest at the time to hearing the stories of the common people in preference to the Astors and the other robber baron types On the other hand he is fair and gives credit to almost everyone for having class and dignity I hesitate to call Lord's treatment of the issues socially conscious I just think he was trying to be fair and balanced as a historian than other writers had been previouslyThere are probably other books that go into greater detail on certain aspects of this story but I can't imagine there being a better entire book on the Titanic than this Addendum 2016In the intervening years since I wrote this review I did end up seeing the 1953 Titanic movie and it is an entertaining potboiler vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck all gussied up in high gloss duds and 20th Century Fox production values and familial bad blood Kind of Stella Dallas on the high seas Barbara can suffer in mink just as well on a cruise liner as in a mansion It's grand entertainment but not a very good Titanic movie

  8. says:

    Book on CD read by Walter JarvisOn April 15 1912 the greatest ship to ever sail struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic This is a chronological tale of what the people aboard the Titanic recall of that night’s events This is a re read I first read it before I joined either Shelfari or Goodreads so I have no record of when I read it I believe it was in the 1980s; I know it was long before the hugely successful movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet If memory serves I re read it at about the time the movie was released So this is my third readingIt’s a gripping story and Lord does a great job of bringing all these people to life I get a real sense of the confusion and disbelief when the ship first strikes the iceberg And later of the chaos and panic when it is clear she will go down and there are not enough lifeboats for everyone aboard to safely get away Lord used transcripts of testimony given by many people during the inuiry following the disaster as well as personal interviews with survivors and relatives of those lost at sea as well as people who were aboard the Carpathia which picked up all the lifeboats and returned with them to New York The text edition I had included some photographs as well as a full list of the passengersWalter Jarvis does an okay job of reading the audio version but I really disliked his voice Still he did convey a sense of urgency as he related the events of that horrible night

  9. says:

    Because I'm cruel and evil I'm going to ruin this book for you with a spoiler The ship sinks folksWhat you already knew that? You've heard the story before once or twice maybe? In fact do you think the Titanic story is overblown in our culture? Are you tired of it? You can blame Walter Lord But don't blame him too much; he wrote an amazing bookLord was something of a harmless crank with a bit of a fascination with this big honkin' ship that had run into an iceberg a few decades before He collected all the information on it he could This being the 1950s he then topped that off by interviewing many of the survivors of that disaster The fact that this was not that long after the Titanic sank in terms of history is pointed out by the fact that one of the Titanic stewards Lord interviewed was still working on trans Atlantic passenger liners at the time the book came outLord then wrote his book for the most part as anecdotes from people who were there assembled like jigsaw pieces into a coherent picture It is a brilliant and compelling way of telling the story because it gives you the overall picture the names and faces of the people who stood on the slanting deck that cold night some unlikely and near forgotten heroes and villains and the sense that you're right there watching it happenA Night to Remember is a uick and easy read and very rewarding I recommend it In fact if you want to know about the Titanic disaster I suggest you read this book watch the movie of the same name that was made from it and skip the eternal tedious and repetitive rest of the literature on the subject

  10. says:

    When I was about 15 I was completely obsessed with the Titanic yep that's the year the movie came out and I brought every book I could find about it And at the time hyping up the movie there was a lot of books availableA couple of years later the obsession had faded and it wasn't until the 100th anniversary of the sinking in mid April that my interest was piued again So I picked up a copy of A Night to RememberWritten in 1955 it reads with a surprisingly modern and appealing voice it's not stuffy or wordy in it's explanations of what happened that fateful night and although the 'cast of characters' is long it's an extremely riveting readUsing interviews with passengers from first second and third class and crew as a basis for the book Walter Lord's classic has stood the test of time well Although the cast of characters is large and complicated the prominent passengers Mrs Brown John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim stand out as do the chilling accounts from below decks crew and steerage passengers There are stories of miraculous survival and heart breaking stories of final goodbyes and coverage of the rescue and the landing of the survivors in New YorkAs a non fiction book this is not a dry read at all Sure it's got a whole lot of facts about the ship the sinking and the rescue efforts but it's presented in an easy to read language interspersed with amazing true storiesRead of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie