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The Titanic For Dummies

ISBN: 978-1-118-17766-2
336 pages
February 2012
The Titanic For Dummies (1118177665) cover image


The Titanic For Dummies paints the whole picture of the most famous maritime disaster. It examines the building of the ship, life onboard during its maiden voyage, tragic decisions made that fateful night, the discovery of the wreck, and the many controversies that have emerged in the century since the sinking. Information includes:
  • Theories behind the reason for the sinking (does the blame lie with the watertight doors, bad rivets, or crew negligence?), and when and where the ship split in two.
  • A detailed look at how the lack of lifeboats — and the chaos that resulted in lifeboats launching before they reached capacity — resulted in lives lost.
  • A Titanic “Who’s Who” identifying notable passengers, including those who were famous before the tragedy and those who gained fame because of it.
  • Current thinking about reports of shots being fired onboard, the details of Captain Smith’s death, Murdoch’s possible suicide, and the band’s last song.
  • Findings from the Titanic hearings on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • A recounting of Robert Ballard’s discovery of the wreck in 1985 and the ongoing debate over whether to salvage the wreck or let the ship remain as a memorial to those who perished.
  • A glimpse of the most fascinating artifacts salvaged from the wreckage.
  • The Titanic in pop culture: from Broadway to one of the most highest grossing movies in history (being re-released in 3D in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary).
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: The Titanic: A Century of Legend 7

Chapter 1: Why the Titanic Endures 9

Chapter 2: Building the Ship of Dreams 19

Chapter 3: From Royalty to Rats: Who Sailed on the Titanic 33

Chapter 4: Life Onboard: From Breakfast and Lunch to Steerage and Bunks 55

Part II: Tragedy at Sea: The Titanic Sinks on Its Maiden Voyage 71

Chapter 5: Four Days of Smooth Sailing 73

Chapter 6: The Collision and Sinking 83

Chapter 7: Surviving the Sinking of the Titanic 99

Chapter 8: “I Was There”: Firsthand Accounts of the Sinking 121

Chapter 9: How the World Learned about the Titanic’s Loss 149

Chapter 10: Investigating the Titanic’s Demise 163

Part III: Exploring Enduring Titanic Mysteries 187

Chapter 11: Doomed from the Start? Studying What Went Wrong 189

Chapter 12: Lingering Questions about the Titanic’s Final Hours 201

Chapter 13: Foreshadowing the Tragedy? The 1898 Novella The Wreck of the Titan 213

Part IV: The Quest to Recover the Titanic 219

Chapter 14: Looking at Early Attempts to Raise the Titanic 221

Chapter 15: The Quest of the Century: The 1985 Discovery of the Wreck 233

Part V: The Titanic in Popular Culture 247

Chapter 16: Salvaging the Titanic and Its Artifacts 249

Chapter 17: Presenting the Titanic Story on Screen and on Stage 265

Part VI: The Part of Tens 275

Chapter 18: Ten Fascinating Titanic Artifacts 277

Chapter 19: Ten Titanic Myths Debunked 285

Chapter 20: Ten Terrifi c Titanic Documentaries 293

Appendix: A Titanic Timeline 301

Index 309

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Author Information

Stephen Spignesi is the bestselling author of more than 50 books. He is a Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven in Connecticut where he teaches Composition and Literature, Writing, and courses on Stephen King and the Titanic.

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Press Release

January 11, 2012
For Dummies® Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

The Titanic has been the subject of books, documentaries, and feature films, as well as a Broadway musical and a popular traveling museum of artifacts. This April 14 will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking.  To memorialize this, Oscar-winning director James Cameron is re-releasing his acclaimed film Titanic in 3-D and remembrance activities are scheduled worldwide. For those interested in learning more about the famous ship, the Dummies series brings The Titanic For Dummies® (Wiley, 978-1-118-17766-2, January 2012), an informative guide that helps separate fact from fiction with facsimile reprints of original documents, engravings, articles, and manifests.

The Titanic For Dummies® outlines the lives and final moments of some of the more famous and intriguing passengers aboard the luxury liner. It examines the building of the ship, life onboard during its maiden voyage, tragic decisions made that fateful night, the discovery of the wreck, and the many controversies that have emerged in the century since the sinking.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the book's author, Stephen Spignesi:

- The sinking of the Titanic spurred the creation of the International Ice Patrol. Since then, in close to a century of Atlantic seafaring, not a single ship has struck an iceberg.

- Did the 1898 novella Wreck of the Titan, with its uncanny factual similarities to the Titanic tragedy, predict the disaster?

- Third class accommodations aboard Titanic were so nice, they equalled second class accommodations on other ships sailing at the time.

- The wreck of the Titanic was discovered thanks to the U.S. Navy, allowing Robert Ballard a few days  to go looking for it after completion of an unrelated secret mission for the Navy.

- There is an ongoing argument about salvaging Titanic artifacts. Is salvaging from the debris field educationally justifiable, or desecration of a graveyard?

- J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the White Star Line, got into a lifeboat and survived, when many women and children did not. He was probably the most-hated survivor. Was this animus justifed?

Belfast, Ireland and Southampton, England plan on opening new museums and major commercial complexes in 2012, and commemorative cruises are planned. In addition, the International Maritime Organization will dedicate World Maritime Day to the victims of the Titanic. The book includes information on the various anniversary events planned throughout the world.

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