This book is not on my compiled list of best books of the world (which lists more than 1200 titles). However, it is a sort of classic, and my daughter picked it out of a lineup for her third grade nonfiction book report. She’s not too happy that she did: I read it out loud to her and she synopsized in her report, “I would give this book one star out of five because I didn’t enjoy it. It was boring. It was very detailed and was hard to pay attention to. It said on the website that it was for teenagers and grown-ups, but I thought I would like it anyways. I was wrong, but I did learn a lot about the Titanic.”
I, on the other hand, did enjoy it. It is chock-full of details and ship vernacular; just name after name and timelines and maps and temperatures and all that. Still, the book is such a fascinating study of people in crisis and also of an era gone by, and does the whole thing with kid gloves, compassion, and panache. I was riveted to all those details, and was moved to tears almost every night we read it. (Try explaining to your kids that a simple sentence of factual information can recreate a heart-wrenching scene in your mind of a father sending his family away knowing he will never join them and that this scene makes you imagine your own husband on the deck waving goodbye to you and them; they just look at you like you are nuts.)
I’m not sure I have much more to say about this book because it is all there in that last paragraph. Lots of deets, but heart-breaking stories and fascinating information and a time of glamor and pride and self-righteousness that was never quite to be again. Plus, there’s a character named Major Butt and plenty about the poop deck. My kids did enjoy that.
Haven’t enjoyed a nonfiction book this much since Columbine by Dave Cullen.
There is also a rather lauded old movie based on this book, and no I don’t mean Titanic. Titanic is too riske for my kids to watch and I’m pretty sure one hundred per cent of you have watched that one already, but I have put A Night to Remember on hold with Netflix, and I will review it once we watch it.