Among the 300 books about the Titanic (including an Eyewitness Book and even a Dummie's Guide), what is notably absent is an analysis of those ill-fated last hours not through the eyes of an historian or story teller, but through the lens of a mariner and ship handler applying accepted standards of seamanship--what is known to navies and merchant fleets as "the ordinary practice of seamen." To our knowledge, this book is the first close look at the Titanic disaster by an author with the ship-handling background and knowledge to make an informed reconstruction of the ship's last maneuvers. It gives book-length treatment to the final hours. By contrast, Walter Lord's Night to Remember covers the final maneuvers and the iceberg encounter in eight paragraphs. These days, every airplane crash analysis begins with the effort to recover the black boxes recording final crew conversations and instrument readings. Think how fascinating the black box from the Titanic would have been, but of course there was none. On ships of that era as well as this one, the only "black box" was the ship's logbook, in which all weather observations, course and speed changes, and other relevant information were to be recorded. To this day, a captain's best defense against charges of negligence is the official logbook. But Titanic's logbook went to the bottom with the ship, and even if we were to recover it in readable condition, we would probably be disappointed with its coverage of events in the last hours. The Last Log of the Titanic is a bold but careful reconstruction of the Titanic's final logbook entries. It provides no startling new facts of the Titanic's sinking; rather, it's a fresh interpretation of known facts from a previously neglected point of view: the mariner's. Some things that have been mysterious make more sense when viewed from this perspective (e.g., Captain Smith's treatment of the ice warnings and First Officer Murdoch's maneuvers immediately prior to the iceberg encounter). Other things make less sense than ever. Brown concludes that the ship did not actually collide with the berg, but grounded on a projecting underwater shelf; that First Officer Murdoch almost pulled off a miracle of ship handling in those final minutes before the accident; that the ship, after the grounding, would probably have floated long enough for most or all passengers to survive if Smith hadn't resumed steaming, acceding to the demands of ship owner's representative Bruce Ismay; that, because of this, there was inadequate time remaining to launch lifeboats even if lifeboat capacity had been adequate; that surviving officers lied to and misled the American and British inquiries in order to protect their careers; and that the British Board of Trade had its own commercial and geopolitical reasons to bury the facts.
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Nearly nine decades after the fact, the sinking of the Titanic continues to command more attention than any other twentieth-century catastrophe. Yet most of what is commonly believed about the events of that fateful night in 1912 is, at best, a body of myth and legend nurtured by the ship’s owners and surviving officers and kept alive by generations of authors and movie makers. That, at least, is the thesis presented in this compellingly bold, thoroughly plausible contrarian reconstruction of the last hours of the pride of the White Star Line.
The new, but no-less harrowing Titanic story that Captain David G. Brown unfolds is one involving a tragic chain of human errors on the part of the well-meaning crew, the pernicious influence of the ship's haughty owner, who was aboard for the maiden trip, and a fatal overconfidence in the infallibility of early twentieth-century technology. Among the most startling facts to emerge are that the Titanic did not collide with an iceberg but instead ran aground on a submerged ice shelf, resulting in damage not to ship's sides but to the bottom of her hull. First Officer Murdoch never gave the infamous CRASH STOP ("reverse engines") order; rather, he ordered an ALL STOP, allowing him to execute a nearly successful S-curve maneuver around the berg. The iceberg did not materialize unheralded from an ice-free sea; the Titanic was likely steaming at 22 1/2 knots through scattered ice, with no extra lookouts posted, for two hours or more before the fatal encounter. The visibility was not poor that night, and the only signs of haze or distortion were those produced by the ice field itself as the Titanic approached. Most startling of all, however, is evidence that the ship might have stayed afloat long enough to permit the rescue of all passengers and crew if Captain Smith, at the behest of his employer, Bruce Ismay, had not given the order to resume steaming.
Offering a radically new interpretation of the facts surrounding the most famous shipwreck in history, The Last Log of the Titanic is certain to ignite a storm of controversy.From the Back Cover:
What really happened on the doomed ship's bridge?
The fate of the Titanic, or at least the deaths of hundreds of its passengers, might have been avoided on that fateful April night in 1912--even after the iceberg encounter--if Captain Edward Smith, at the behest of his employer, had not resumed steaming. The Last Log of the Titanic is the first book to reconstruct the disaster from the perspective of an expert ship handler. Journalist and licensed ship’s captain David G. Brown has combed the entire body of evidence and survivor accounts for just those facts, observations, and remembered events and conversations that relate to the Titanic’s final, minute-by-minute circumstances and maneuvers. This compellingly bold, thoroughly plausible reconstruction of the last hours of the pride of the White Star Line is the next-best thing to recovering the ship’s lost logbook.
"Absolutely fascinating--fills a huge void in the literature of the subject."--Thomas C. Wingfield, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
"Dave Brown's theories caused me to reevaluate the evidence and arrive at a conclusion that defies nine decades of conventional wisdom. I fully expect that further examination of the Titanic wreck will corroborate Dave's hypotheses."--Parks Stephenson, USN (Ret.), advisor to the James Cameron films "Titanic" and "Ghosts of the Abyss"
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Book Description International Marine/Ragged Mo, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110071413081