Flayhart's Perils of the Atlantic

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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The book discussed here doesn't really qualify as a "Titanic book", although it contains a chapter about Titanic, but since there doesn't seem to be a better place for this message, I've put it here.

Some months ago---so many, in fact, that I had completely forgotten---I ordered William Flayhart's new book, Perils of the Atlantic, from amazon.com. As you may know, he's the author of two books---The American Line and Majesty at Sea---that are quite highly regarded.

The book arrived today, and I've already read almost half of it. It is, IMHO, terrific. He writes about twenty-one different Atlantic disasters, including the sinking of the White Star liners Atlantic, Baltic I (in her second career as Holland-American's Veendam), Republic II and Titanic, as well as the collision between Celtic I and Britannic I. The chapters I've read so far---for the most part, they're the ones which deal with White Star or ex-White Star ships, for some reason---are well written, well documented and (as far as I can tell) quite accurate. Even with respect to incidents I know fairly well---the wreck of Atlantic, for example---there are details presented here that I haven't come across elsewhere. It's a first-class work; I recommend it highly.

Perils of the Atlantic: Steamship Disasters, 1850 to the Present, by William Flayhart; published by Norton; ISBN 0-393-04155-7.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Mark, thanks for the notice about this one. always good to hear about a new liner anthology, especially as regards to its accuracy. as a rule, these anthologies are great to learn the basics about a wide range of disasters, but they tend to be very error prone.

another anthology from about a decade ago that I thought was excellent is To the Bottom of the Sea: True Accounts of Major Ship Disasters by John Protasio. this one also seemed quite accurate. it covers 20 disasters in all, including a chapter on Titanic.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Mark Baber

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My Visa card is screaming for mercy!

I think the screaming will be replaced by a smile once the book arrives.

;-)

anthologies are great to learn the basics about a wide range of disasters

Quite right. Entire books could be--and in some instances have been---written about some of the incidents described in this one. But Flayhart provides enough details, and writes so well, that you get a good understanding of each of these episodes.

the Bottom of the Sea: True Accounts of Major Ship Disasters by John Protasio

I don't have this one; I'll have to keep an eye open for it.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Mmm, thanks Mark - having read Flayhart's excellent work on the American Line (all those marvellously ugly little workhorse ships), I'll be keeping an eye out for this one.

Mike T - thanks too for the recommendation on Protasio's book. I've seen it often but have never been sure about actually springing for a copy as I'm not particularly interested in just another general anthology. I've already got a few that have so many errors in their Titanic chapters, that the rest of the book is suspect too.
 

Mark Baber

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I regret to report that, in the chapter on Titanic, the name "Samson" appears, with a footnote to E&H's T:T&T.

:-(

He also speaks of JJA and unnamed others being sucked into a funnel which swept them "around and around like a washing machine ... obliterating features."

I stick by my original assessment...the book is quite good. But, like even the best, there are some problem passages.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Aaaaaarrrrgggggg...not the Samson again! Oh well, I just got my copy today. What little I've seen just browsing through it looks pretty good. I found that photo of the City of Paris's engine room after the machinary literally came unglued.

What a mess! And whatever diety you believe in help whatever poor sods were in the way. The survivors would have been picking them up with a sponge.
 

Inger Sheil

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Wow - washed their faces clean off, did it? No features at all, eh?

Don't know about the Ship that Stood Still, but the Samson seems to be pretty unsinkable. I've spoken to folks who have heard of virtually nothing else connected with the disaster, but they've heard about the Samson (even if they can't always recall the name). Some things are hard to drive a stake through.

Still, it sounds like a good book overall. Good images, you suggest, Mike? Will be out at Greenwich soon - must stick my nose into one of the maritime specialist bookshops out there and have a look-see for it.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Some of them seem first rate Inger. The book is heavy on text though and doesn't have a lot of illustrations. Overall, I think you'll find it worthwhile though.

As to the Samson...well...it beats having to drive a stake through [Insert screams here] The Mummy!