A few minutes before midnight on April 14, 1912, the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage to New York, struck an iceberg. Less than three hours later she lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. While the world has remained fascinated by the tragedy, the most amazing drama of those fateful hours was not played out aboard the doomed liner. It took place on the decks of two other ships, one 58 miles distant from the sinking Titanic, the other barely 10 miles away. The masters of the steamships Carpathia and Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron and Captain Stanley Lord, were informed within minutes of each other that their vessels had picked up the distress signals of a sinking ship. Their actions in the hours and days that followed would become the stuff of legend, as one would choose to take his ship into dangerous waters to answer the call for help, while the other would decide that the hazard to himself and his command was too great to risk responding.
After years of research, Daniel Allen Butler now tells this incredible story, moving from ship to ship on the icy waters of the North Atlantic - in real time - to recount how hundreds of people could have been rescued, but in the end only a few outside of the meager lifeboats were saved. He then looks alike at the U.S. Senate investigation in Washington, and ultimately the British Board of Trade inquiry in London, where the actions of each captain are probed, questioned, and judged, until the truth of what actually happened aboard the Titanic, the Carpathia and the Californian is revealed.
Daniel Allen Butler, a maritime and military historian, is the best-selling author of "Unsinkable": The Full Story of RMS Titanic, Distant Victory: The Battle of Jutland and the Allied Triumph in the First World War, and The First Jihad: The Battle for Khartoum and the Dawn of Militant Islam. He is an internationally recognized authority on maritime subjects and a popular guest-speaker for several cruise lines. Butler lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By laurie on 18-05-15
Ridiculous: I never thought about It before now
So how did those 700+ survivors get out of the water and back to land? This is silly, but I never thought about it. I'm guessing you had. This fascinating book details the rescue and the quick thinking of the captain of the Carpathia, the ocean liner that turned around and, full speed ahead, plowed through fifty-plus miles of the icy North Atlantic to save as many wretched souls as he could.
In contrast, however, was the response of the captain of the Californian, a steamer fewer than ten miles from the Titanic. He did nothing. His officers reported seeing distress flares launched one after another from the Titanic into the clear night sky. But Captain Lord stayed in the Californian's chart room and went back to sleep.
The author makes clear that had the Californian gone immediately to the scene of the disaster, not everyone floundering in the 28-degree water would have been saved, but hundreds more would have survived. A Senate investigation followed as soon as the Carpathia and the Californian reached New York. Survivors and crew from the Titanic testified, as did the captain and crew of the Carpathia and the Californian. When those ships returned to England, a formal investigation was conducted there, too. The author describes the dramatic hearings where the awful truth about Captain Lord finally comes out.
This was a wrenching book. It makes the Titanic's catastrophic sinking even more tragic than it already was. Between the covers I found a new hero, the captain of the Carpathia, who gives proof to how magnificent we humans can be. But I also met a monster who evidences a heart as cruel and cold as an iceberg.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
By W. on 19-04-15
The Other Side of the Night
This read is well worth the price or credit! I enjoy nonfiction which is factual and moving at a pace to keep my interest. This exceeded my expectations. All of the horrific truth about the tragedy of the Titanic was told in a very humane narrative, but also how other factors interceded with the tragic event which left me stunned. There were times when I wanted to weep.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful