If you have even a slight interest in the Titanic disaster, “A Night To Remember” is must read! Walter Lord utilized the stories of survivors to compile a detailed overview of the sinking. As he tells of those harrowing two hours, the reader understands that no two stories are the same. Take for example that while first class passengers near the top decks of the ship barely felt a shudder and had little inclination of the ship’s impact with the iceberg, steerage passengers lower on the ship felt an immense shock and knew things were not right almost immediately. Lord presented the perspectives of so many passengers that a reader gains a global understanding of what was happening on every deck, making this book unlike any other.
As water flooded the floor of their rooms, the steerage passengers attempted to reach higher decks. In a society obsessed with class, the steerage decks of the shop was actually locked at night to ensure that those passengers remained in their portion of the ship. Only a handful of gates were unlocked, and many steerage passengers were locked into their death early on in the sinking. Those who managed to reach the higher first class decks, were turned away from life boats because first class passengers were loaded first. Anyone who has seen the feature film, Titanic, knows of the character, Mr. Murdoch, who takes a bribe to allow men to board the life boats. That character was based on an actual sailor on the Titanic who allowed men to board life boats on one side if the ship when there were no other passengers available to do so. Lord recounts that one man put a shawl around his shoulders and jumped into a boat posing as a woman. This aspect of what occurred onboard really calls into question the morality of the proposition that women and children should be saved before men. Don’t we all want to save ourselves? But in reading some recollections of older women giving their seats to children, one can understand how a person can accept they have lived a full life and want a young person to be saved so they can do the same.
There are too many details to describe in one blog, but this was a great book on the “Titanic” disaster due to the author’s dedication in interviewing so many survivors to prepare this account.