Do you prefer the Gracie or Beesley book


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Jan 7, 2002
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As far as first person accounts go, if you had to choose which is better- the Archibald Gracie or Lawrence Beesley books- which would you pick?

Gracie has more information, but I find Beesley's book to be a more enjoyable read.....

Gracie's book can be information overkill at times...

what do you all think??

Tarn Stephanos
 

Deborah Kogan

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Jan 29, 2003
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I find the Beesley book to have very poetic and memorable sections. The movie S.O.S. Titanic quotes extensively from it. I saw the movie right after I finished the book, and I was saying the lines along with the movie... If I had only three Titanic books, the Beesley would be one of them.
 
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I think both books are absolutely essential in getting a picture of what happened that night. They come from two different perspectives, and both perspectives add human dimensions to the story.

And the wordiness of one or the other never bothered me...it was a way of getting information across, and exorcising some emotions. I don't know that many of us would have the self-editors on when writing something after an event of this magnitude.
 

Dave Gittins

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Both are important sources in their own way. I value them equally.

I think Gracie's book is incomplete. It just seems to stop, with no kind of summing up. How say you?
 
Mar 20, 1997
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Gracie's book probably seems to end hastily, most likely because he passed away in December 1912 and the publisher had no choice but to print the book "as is". Had Gracie lived longer he might have planned more of a summary and afterword about the disaster. Does anyone know if his other works had the same kind of writing style as the Titanic book?

While I have the Gracie book currently in my collection and thought it was a reasonably good read, I do still remember the Beasley book which is significant, since the only time I had the that book in my hands was when I was 12 or 13 and had borrowed it from the local library. I still recall the way he vividly portrayed the scene in the Second Class Reading Room and also the different vignettes during the sinking. So I guess I favor the Beasley account.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Agreeing with Dave here. I have copies of both and they have a value in that they represent two of the most objective and level headed accounts of the disaster available at the time from the vantage point of people who were actually there. While neither is perfect...nothing touched by man ever is...they're far better then the sensational accounts appearing in the media of the day which tended to include interviews with survivors whether the interviews really happened or not.
 
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Christine Geyer

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Both books have been among the first in my Titanic bookshelf. Since they're both first-hand accounts they seem very important to me. I don't know too much about either Gracie of Beesley as private persons but my impression just from their books is that they had highly different characters. While Gracies account appears to be rather dashing and dynamic (the military background shining through) I find Beesleys more calm, pensive and circumspect. Judging from the book I'd imagine him as a sensitive and very attentive man, as he goes in so much detail.

But Arthur made a good point here. It would've been interesting to see what Gracies book would've looked like had he had the chance to finish proofing it.

So I personally wouldn't want to say which one is "better". I appreciate them both equally. Probably I have read Beesley more often because I like his writing style. For me it seems easier to identify with him. It brings me closer to the course of events, while Gracies rather has the effect of a report to me.

Regards to you all
Christine
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Let me see...which one do I prefer...?

First of all, Gracie's book is incomplete. Those who have a first edition know the final chapter (left out of the Dover edition) was written by Gracie's publisher. His work still stands on it's own, not only for facts but as a testiment of the sort of historical writing of the day. But, even unfinished (and you sort of catch your breath when you consider what other 'gems' he wanted to add) it's a tremendous read.

Beesley is all things mentioned above - poetic but, at times, clinical, almost patient in it's narrative. Here we not only have another telling of the story, not only a 'Second Class' vs 'First Class' version but also a different approach. Consider -

Gracie tells a historian's view - his work is full of names, times, other people's accounts. He took time to get the 'nuts and bolts' as do most good historians.

Beesley approaches it through his background, as a scientist. He sees the events unfold and describes them as a lab technician would describe an experiment. Yet, as we all know, Lawrence allows the poet in himself to emerge (Who can forget his leaving Ireland and descriptions of the landscape) as a sort of soothing balm to 'calm the waters' before he moves on to the catastrophe itself. And as a scientist his book sees the event and then goes to to show measures to prevent it ever happening again - action/reaction; the scientific approach. Hence the full title of the book is "The Loss of the SS TITANIC, it's Story and it's Lessons".

In my opinion, as in the Dover Edition, you really need both books - they both offer so much.

Best regards, all around,
Cook
 
Oct 13, 2000
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absolutely, Pat, both books are invaluable. we are very fortunate to have had two survivors take the effort to get their experiences down on paper. it becomes especially important when we put these books into historical perspective. as Mike S pointed out, most everything else being printed about the disaster during this time period where the door-to-door instant disaster books. these latter books were pulled together from newspaper accounts, and tended to be very sensationalized; a real mishmash of fact and fabrication.

the other thing that stikes about Beesley & Gracie is the circumstances under which they were written.

it is extraordinary how quickly Beesley in particular put his book together. it was first published in June of 1912, which means it must have been at the printers at the very least a few weeks before that. he didn't even get off the Carpathia, till, what was it, April 20th? he wrote that entire book in four or five weeks!

and consider Archibald Gracie. we know that he was very ill during the entire time he was writing his own book. I am amazed at his determination to continue on with the project when he should have been thinking about his health. I often wonder, did he realize how badly his health was failing? did he know he was dying? it had to have taken a great deal of courage to continue writing under such circumstances.

we all owe both of these men a tremendous debt of gratitude for their accomplishments.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Walter Lord's favorite Titanic book was the Beesley book- but Im sure the fact he became friends with Beesley influenced his opinion on that book..

There are photos of Beesley on the set of the film "A Night To Remember.."

I wonder if Beesley hobnobbed with officer Boxhall, as he was a technical advisor for the film....

regards

tarn Stephanos


ps- remember, there were 3 Beesley books to look for-

(1)The purple/red British edition with the fold out deck plan..

(2) The blue/black US edition, which seems to be the most common edition...

(3) And in 1929 there was also an edition published through the Nautilus Library...

As for the Gracie book, there is the 1913 maroon edition, as well as a rare 1913 GREEN version, with a post sinking photo of Gracie the maroon version lacks...



regards


Tarn Stephanos
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Michael wrote: "it was first published in June of 1912, which means it must have been at the printers at the very least a few weeks before that. he didn't even get off the Carpathia, till, what was it, April 20th? he wrote that entire book in four or five weeks!"

Actually, less than that. Recall Beesley's prologue:

"The circumstances in which this book came to be written are as follows. Some five weeks after the survivors of the Titanic landed in New York, I was the guest at a luncheon of the Hon. Samuel J. Elder and Hon. Charles T. Gallegher..."

He then goes on to say that he was urged to write his book after this luncheon. Five weeks after they had landed!

My guess is he wrote his book in 2 weeks or less.

Tarn wrote: "Walter Lord's favorite Titanic book was the Beesley book- but Im sure the fact he became friends with Beesley influenced his opinion on that book.."

Depends on when you're talking about. Walter Lord didn't even know Beesley was still alive when he wrote his book. It was only after "A Night To Remember" came out that Lawrence's daughter contacted Lord and gave him Lawrence's address. Walter then wrote a lovely 'fan' letter to Beesley, praising his book.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jan 7, 2002
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On many levels, the circumstances of Beesley writing his book would be duplicated by Lusitania surivor Charles Lauriet, who wrote a book
(The Lusitania's Last voyage") about the sinking of that ship months after the sinking....

Like Gracie though, Lauriet was a 1st class passenger on his ship,and swam away from the scene.....

Strange Lauriet's Lucy book has never been reprinted...



Tarn Stephanos
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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As others here have pointed out, both books are worthy of praise and should be a part of every Titanic book collection.

However, I'm partial to the Beesley book, largely because of his writing style.
 
Jan 7, 2002
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A favorite moment in Beesleys book was when he mentioned he was in the library eavsdropping on nearby conversations..Its such subtle things in his book that make it appealing to me..
His book is a very pleasant read...

Beesley's account book presented a mystery though...he seemed to suggest after the engines stopped, they came on again for some time. For how long? He didnt say...


Here is a question- Gracie testified at the US Senate Hearings, but Beesley did not...why wasnt Beesley asked to speak?

regards


Tarn Stephanos
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Hi Tarn,

As you and some of the other E T-ites may know I have had the great pleasure to get to know Lawrence's family members. During one of my visits with Dinah, his step-daughter, there was to be a radio reinactment of the Titanic Hearings (it being the 90th anniversary at the time). Dinah showed me the listing which also detailed the characters testifying. She then asked me why Lawrence's name was omitted. I had to tell her that he wasn't called and, as you just did, she asked why not. Of course, I didn't have an answer.

I do have a suggestion, though. Lawrence's book had not come out yet (In time for the U S hearings anyway) and he had only his detailed letter posted by Reuters. Gracie, on the other hand, was not only a first class passenger but also a historian, having published his book "The Truth About Chickamauga" the previous year. Perhaps these reasons were what prompted the committee to call Gracie and not Beesley.

Best regards, O M
Cook
 
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Megan brule

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Hello all,

In my personal opinion I like Beesley's account much better than Gracie's.
The reason why I say this is because to me Beesley seemed like a intelligent and a good head on his shoulders, and he makes you feel like you are on the Titanic with him.
While Gracie's account was rather boring to me and he went kind of over the top.

~Megan
 
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Sean Lynn

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Beesley is on Project Gutenberg.

If your copyright laws allow it, you can download 'Loss of the S.S. Titanic' e-book for free. I'm in Canada which allows it so I'm happy as a clam.

I'm working on Beesley now and I've got Lightoller's 'Titanic and Other Ships' ready to read when I'm done.

Needless to say, Project Gutenberg is the best thing to happen since sliced bread!
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Well I Looked Everywhere in The Books Folder for a thread on Beesley n couldnt find 1, so i decided to use this 1.

My Only Question is Does Anyone besides me Have This Specific Book:


Beesley

Loss of the S.S. Titanic

Amereon Limited

No Date or ISBN Listed

A note On Page Right After 2nd title Page Which States That The Book Is Limited to 80 Copies.

Hardcover which Black and has Gold Letters on Spine and Front of Book and No DJ
 
May 1, 2004
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Beesley. I'm currently reading through it. Gracie's is more self serving and dramatic and 'old boy' Eton and Epsom lather.

Beesley stays on the subject of the sinking and only refers to himself when it adds to the story.

Lightoller's book alarms me because his dates are all wrong.
 
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