Unsinkable The Full Story

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Deborah, here's a link to a thread that will give you tags for more interesting emoticons:

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/cgi-bin/discus/board-image-lister.cgi

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Interesting point about the need to find the source of the misinformation circulating out there. There are a few things mentioned in Pellegrino that I find particularly frustrating, which are now quite widespread on the internet. For example, the purported Lightoller line in HNT about Lightoller hearing people say 'I love you' as the ship went down. Where did this come from??? What is his source? Is it yet another completely fabricated quote, like the conversations between Bride and Philips? At one point a friend of Pellegrinos suggested that Walter Lord had heard it from Lightoller himself. When it was pointed out that Lord never had any contact with Lightoller, the story altered and Lord allegedly heard it from Sylvia Ligtholler. Pinning Pellegrino down on anything can be hard. Some of it is bordering on the surreal - the bizarre conversation he fabricates between the wireless operators about potential uses for prophylactics, for example. Mike, I don't know why Pellegrino was invited on those expeditions. He seems a nice, personable bloke, however, and is clearly fascinated by technology. His approach to writing history clearly illustrated for me what was a point that I didn't really grasp before - that for many people out there, the line between fact and fiction really doesn't matter. I tend to associate with folks who like identified sources, and who would never dream of just making something up. But it really doesn't both a lot of folks on the net - they're quite comfortable with invented dialogue, and sometimes indulge in interpolating purely fictional material in their own supposedly factual accounts of the disaster. It reminds me a bit of other writers such as Frank Clune, although Clune was writing many decades ago!

Be interesting to see what views you form about 'Unsinkable', Beth. I agree with the remarks above that one of the book's strengths is that Butler looks at what had previously been a rather neglected angle - the POV of the crew. All too often these men and women, with the exception of a few high-profile individuals such as the Captain and a few deck officers, have been treated as background to a drama played out by passengers.

I noticed a few errors when he made incorrect assumptions when extrapolating from what data he had, or interpreted it incorrectly. Lowe was not remotely amused by the allegation of intoxication - he was furious. Nor did he retire from the sea after WWI.

I was chatting last night to someone who was reading Dan's Warrior Queens - any feedback on that?
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

I was chatting last night to someone who was reading Dan's Warrior Queens - any feedback on that?

A grand read. Some errors, but it's pretty decent.

Best,

Mark.
 

Inger Sheil

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Thanks for that feedback, Mark. Chap I was discussing it with seemed to feel it was a good read as well. Where did you pick up your copy? I havent' been down to Foyle's in Charring Cross road to see what's on the maritime shelves of late.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Inger you wrote: (Pellegrino's) approach to writing history clearly illustrated for me what was a point that I didn't really grasp before - that for many people out there, the line between fact and fiction really doesn't matter. I tend to associate with folks who like identified sources, and who would never dream of just making something up. But it really doesn't both a lot of folks on the net - they're quite comfortable with invented dialogue, and sometimes indulge in interpolating purely fictional material in their own supposedly factual accounts of the disaster.

Inger, this is completely true, and unfortunately is not limited to what people find on the net, but to just about any form of media you can mention. people routinely watch made for tv movies and films that are "based on a true story" and blindly accept that these are accurate recreations of what really happened. its all rather frightening!

Carl Sagan wrote quite a bit about this in one of his last books, The Demon Haunted World.

one comment in particular he made has stuck with me:
Both P.T. Barnum and H. L. Mencken are said to have made the depressing observation that no one ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. The remark has worldwide application. But the lack is not in intelligence, which is in plentiful supply; rather the scarce commodity is systematic training in critical thinking.

Sagan was a man who always championed rational thought as an ideal to strive for, and if I were dictator, I would make his book required reading for every adult on the planet!
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all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Inger Sheil

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You raise a very interesting point, TMIB - and I think Sagan has hit it spot on. It's not a question of intelligence - I've known highly intelligent people, and some rather gifted writers, who not only can't be bothered sifting fact and fiction, but who just don't see the value in doing so. Nor do they understand the utter antipathy that others have for blurring the distinction. A lack of systematic training in critical thinking sounds like as decent an explanation as I've heard - and is certainly much kinder than the 'sheer laziness' suggestion! I find it incredibly frustrating to have to deal with people who just cannot or will not examine an issue critically, and who - when challenged or questioned more closely on their position - respond only with a variation of 'well, that's my opinion, and everyone is entitled to one.' Certainly everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that does not mean that all opinions have equal merit. Used in that context, it's a cop-out.

I'll have to keep an eye out for that title, Mark - I'm not yet ready to venture back into Amazon territory, as there's far too many books lurking in the on-line undergrowth that I'd be tempted to pick up!
 

Andreas Gill

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Nov 6, 2002
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I would like to hear peoples opinions about this book. There are a million books about the ship and I'm not really sure what is good to read. The only ones I have is "A Night to Remember" and "The Discovery of the Titanic". Am currently looking for more so any suggestions would be nice.

Hello Andreas. I realise you're new, but please do not start threads that duplicate existing topics (see the board rules for further info). I've moved this discussion in with the existing discussion of Unsinkable. You may want to check out some of the opinions posted earlier too. Cheers, FN, Moderator
 
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Personally, during parts of "Unsinkable", I felt I was reading an expanded version of "A Night to Remember". I found ANTR to be a far more enjoyable read.

Try Lynch's and Marschall's "Titanic: An Illustrated History".
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Unsinkable is definitely not among the best books. For the most part, it's derivative and slipshod, especially about anything nautical. The best thing about it is that Butler has some understanding of the reasons for the actions of the crew and passengers. As an old soldier, he knows the meaning of devotion to duty. There's also some interesting thoughts on Captain Smith's mental state during the sinking.

One of the very best books is Michael Davie's Titanic: The Full Story of a Tragedy. It's not easy to find but it's well worth the hunt.

Eaton & Haas's Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy is very strong on illustrations, though weak on interpretation. Like the rest of their work, it's marred by their misplaced sympathy for Captain Lord.

Titanic Voices is very good for human interest, though it contains a few clangers and of course some of the participants' memories are not quite accurate years after the event.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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I don't have quite the negative view of Butler's book that some of the others have. I would agree with Bill that it is something of an expanded version of ANTR, and would add it is also an updated version of that book as well. by that I mean that Butler covers a lot more current history that was obviously not available to Walter Lord in the 1950's. so I don't think the fact that Butler's book is an upgrade (so to speak) of Lord's book is in itself a detriment. it has been quite a long time since I read Butler, but I did remember having a very favorable opinion of it at the time. sure, there are blunders in the facts, but that is true of just about any book out there.

several of the other books mentioned by Bill and Dave have strong points and all are worth adding to your collection. my choice of the book that should be at the top of your acquisition list is Geoffrey Marcus' The Maiden Voyage. This work is one of my very favorite books on the subject; not only is the volume of information incredible, but the writing style flows with great style. This work is right up there with Walter Lord’s book as one of the most readable accounts ever printed on the subject.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Andreas Gill

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Nov 6, 2002
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Well tank you all for answering my questions. Now that I already have created a newbie thread about books I also would like to wonder if there are any books that deal with the technical aspects of the ship and the sinking?
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Andreas, my rivethead friends seem to think that Michael McCaughan's Birth of the Titanic is one of the best books on the technical aspects of the ship.

my favorite book on the technical aspects of the sinking is David Brown's The Last Log of the Titanic.

you won't go wrong with either of these books!
Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
T

Tom Pappas

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There is also a rigorous blow-by-blow description of the flooding and loss of buoyancy in Titanic at Two A.M.: An Illustrated Narrative with Survivor Accounts by Paul J. Quinn. ISBN 0965520935
 
Jun 6, 2003
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I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Although it is reminiscent of ANTR, it updates a lot of recent findings in an interesting way. I have recommended it and loaned it to people who are just becoming interested in the subject.
 
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This is a book in my collection and was trying to get some opinions on it. I looked for a thread and did not find one so I started one. Just post what you thought if you have read the book. I am looking if it is factual or false. Thank You !!
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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Actually, there already is a thread on this book, Joshua and I moved your post to here. Personally, I enjoyed it and it is a good retelling of the history, even though there are many errors in it, but no book is perfect.

See the above posts for other people's opinions.
 
I thought this book was pretty good. Some of the inaccuracies I found were small, though I'm not sure if they are inaccurate or if I just misunderstood. Example, when he spoke of the breakup it seemed like he was saying it happened underwater, which i know the majority of it did, but see, now I'm confused. :p But I also found out a lot of information I didn't know. I always love to find out new things. That's one thing about the Titanic, once you think you know it all you find another book or article that tells you more. I personally don't hold Captain SMith responsible, but I know that that is a TOUCHY subject... Thanks for your time. Any recommendation for another good book with more information?
Thanks again.
Kendra
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>I personally don't hold Captain Smith responsible, but I know that that is a TOUCHY subject.<<

You may not personally hold him responsible, but as commander of the vessel, the lives and safety of all those who sailed upon her were indeed his responsibility. It was Smith who decided the course and speed of the vessel knowing full well what lay ahead. He had other options such as taking his ship much further south as others had done, but he chose not to do so. He took a risk and lost.