The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Titanic

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9780028627120: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Titanic

With the blockbuster successes of James Cameron's Titanic, its best-selling companion book, and the Broadway musical of the same name, it's clear people have an insatiable appetite for all things Titanic. This fascinating work tells newcomers all about the ship-from its inception, to its building, to the media hype surrounding its fatal maiden voyage, to the passengers aboard, to an up-to-date explanation of how it is believed the iceberg crash caused the ship to sink, to the chaos that ensued, to survivors' stories, and more. This thorough retrospective also contains information on recent underwater recoveries, quotes from survivors, ample illustrative material, and even insights into the Titanic's impact on contemporary pop culture.

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Review:

Most books about the sinking of Titanic go out of their way to honor the somber occasion, but somber is not the style of the Complete Idiot's Guide series. This is one perky account of calamity, with hundreds of punning headlines ("Cruisin' for a Bruisin'"), a "riveting" account of the ship's construction, and cartoons such as one depicting Death examining a cargo checklist: "2,000 people. 1 iceberg (to be picked up)." It's a treasure-trove of trivia (and significa), with a zillion bite-size bits neatly organized in sensible categories: historical overviews, wreckage exploration, entertainments inspired by the disaster. Strewn throughout the book like orderly flotsam are boxed items featuring fun facts grouped under five rubrics: "Blow Me Down!" (bizarre coincidences and other eyebrow raisers), "Catch the Drift" (definitions of specialized terms), "SOS" (various problems faced aboard the ship and after the fact, including myths and fallacies), "Ahoy There!" (firsthand accounts), and "Lifesavers" (upbeat items--acts of heroism and good things that came out of the wreck, such as Bob Dylan's allegedly Titanic-inspired tune "Desolation Row" on Highway 61 Revisited).

And that's just a drop in the bucket of the lore in this book. Did you know that the wreck launched the career of a New York high school dropout and 21-year-old nobody who beat all the newspapers to the story via the newfangled technology of wireless radio? The kid, David Sarnoff, became president of RCA and the patriarch of television at NBC. For a book smaller than a steamer trunk, the Complete Idiot's Guide packs an impressive load. (For a booklike object literally shaped like a steamer trunk, try The Titanic Collection: Mementos of the Maiden Voyage.) --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

Jay Stevenson, M.A., Ph,D., is an instructor at Rutgers University, where he teaches writing, English literature, and cultural studies. He is coauthor of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dinosaurs and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy. Sharon Rutman is cofounder of Titanic International, Inc., which publishes a quarterly newsletter named Voyage. She has been a Titanic buff her entire life.

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