I have a book called 'The sinking of the Titanic eyewitnesses accounts' which states it was 1st published in 1912. Can anyone give more info on this book? Does it deserve credit in terms of the tales of witnesses being truly true?
Nuno, there were actually half a dozen 1912 books published right after the disaster - it is hard to tell from your description which one you have. none of them are that accurate. the reason is that most of the material that made up the text of these books was pulled from the newspaper articles that were printed in the first weeks following the sinking. these articles were full of inaccuracies, exaggerations, and sometimes even outright lies (some reporters were not afraid to spice up a survivor's account by adding lurid details the reporters simply made up themselves to make the story sound more exciting). the rush was to get the accounts out to the public and few had the time to check these stories for accuracy.
Just six years later and here I come with a reply.
I have just read a book called 'The Sinking of the Titanic. Thrilling Stories of Survivors with Photographs & Sketches' published in 1912 by L.T. Myers which may be the book Nuno was referring to. (I got it from some friends who bought it in Canada.) This book at least, is certainly very correctly described by Michael (TheManInBlack) T. It is full of inaccuracies, exaggerations, complete nonsense (e.g. four lifeboats capsized while they were lowered) and internal contraditictions.
What amazes me is that the blurb on the back of the 1998 reprint claims that it "remains the most authoritative account of the greatest marine disaster in history." I don't know who comes up with these claims, but really! Funnily a little note on the inside states that "some inaccuracies appear in the text."
It is interesting as an example of how the sinking of the Titanic was received in 1912, but it certainly is no accurate description of the events.
>>I don't know who comes up with these claims, but really!<<
The promoters I would presume. A lot of those books were little better then the news media accounts coming out at the time. They have a value if you're researching cultural impressions and contemporary takes on the events but are virtually useless for historical information.
The best ones, in my opinion, were the accounts known to be written by survivors such as Lawrance Beesley, Colonel Gracie, and Jack Theyer.
Yes, well, I do understand that the publishers want to sell the book, but I think that a good blurb writer should be able to do this without telling outright lies. After all, the book is, for the reasons you name, very interesting - even though at some point I was sick to the stomach with all the 'heroic men' and frail and timid women stuff.
Yes, also to your thoughts on which are the best accounts.
>>but I think that a good blurb writer should be able to do this without telling outright lies. <<
We would all like for people, especially those who claim to document history, to be both honest and accurate, however it just doesn't work that way in real life. From the publishers standpoint, he has two choices:
a) Offer a well researched and accurate account without the romance and the mythmaking which will be true to the events but dry as dust to read or
b) Offer "Thrilling accounts of heroism in the face of mortal danger" which will sell copy like hotcakes and makes a bundle of money.
It seems I have a more optimistic opinion about politicians, their campaign managers and publishers. There are plenty of well-researched, well-documented books out there that are still extremely readable. I agree that they may not sell as well as the memoirs of the latest 'celebrity' but if they are well written they will sell.
It is possible to sell your wares by pointing out their real advantages and not claim some they don't have. Instead of calling 'The Sinking of the Titanic' "the most authoritative account" you could say that it is one of the earliest, revealing the immediate reaction to the disaster or something along those lines.
Agreed, Monica. The publishers could have advertised the book as "Reprint of one of the first books published about the Titanic's sinking! Thrilling stories told by those who were there!" Inside the book, a preface that says they were not accurate and explains reasons why."
That doesn't mean the survivors were lying about the heroism. I'm sure the survivors of 9/11 may have exaggerated their experiences, if exaggeration of that horrific event is possible. I'm still shuddering when I remember what I saw on the TV screen. Imagine what those involved remember! Heroes there were, and folks paralysed by fright. Of course every new made widow saw her husband as a hero. People would want to say they saw famous men like Mr. Astor doing heroic acts because they get a bit of reflected fame from telling the tale or being the object of the famous man's heroism. And people expect military officers, like Major Butt, to be in the forefront: brave men who could knock aside frightened lower decks men, but who are chivalrous and gentle with even the frightened steerage women and children. Men who were brave unto death.
>>...but if they are well written they will sell. <<
Or if they're lurid enough tales of corruption, misconduct, and unnatural sex acts, they'll sell even better. Unfortunately, "Honest" doesn't always figure into the equation and "Factually correct" is not even mentioned as a requirement.
>>Instead of calling 'The Sinking of the Titanic' "the most authoritative account" you could say that it is one of the earliest, revealing the immediate reaction to the disaster or something along those lines.<<
However, that was exactly, as you noted, what didn't happen. It was pitched as "the most authoritative account."