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The Titanic For Dummies [Paperback]

Stephen J. Spignesi
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2012 For Dummies
The Titanic For Dummies paints the whole picture of the most famous maritime disaster. It examines the building of the ship, life onboard during its maiden voyage, tragic decisions made that fateful night, the discovery of the wreck, and the many controversies that have emerged in the century since the sinking. Information includes:
  • Theories behind the reason for the sinking (does the blame lie with the watertight doors, bad rivets, or crew negligence?), and when and where the ship split in two.
  • A detailed look at how the lack of lifeboats — and the chaos that resulted in lifeboats launching before they reached capacity — resulted in lives lost.
  • A Titanic “Who’s Who” identifying notable passengers, including those who were famous before the tragedy and those who gained fame because of it.
  • Current thinking about reports of shots being fired onboard, the details of Captain Smith’s death, Murdoch’s possible suicide, and the band’s last song.
  • Findings from the Titanic hearings on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • A recounting of Robert Ballard’s discovery of the wreck in 1985 and the ongoing debate over whether to salvage the wreck or let the ship remain as a memorial to those who perished.
  • A glimpse of the most fascinating artifacts salvaged from the wreckage.
  • The Titanic in pop culture: from Broadway to one of the most highest grossing movies in history (being re-released in 3D in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary).


Product Details


Product Description

Review

'This quite possibly offers you everything you need to know about the ship...Spignesi's sidebars and modular chapters ensure that wherever you open the book there is a juicy nugget of information on the page.' (The Express, 13th April)

From the Back Cover

An all-encompassing exploration of the Titanic

Are you fascinated by the Titanic? The Titanic For Dummies covers every aspect of the subject, including how she was built, what life was like onboard during her maiden voyage, tragic decisions made on that fateful night, the discovery of the wreck, and all of the controversies surrounding one of the worst maritime disasters of all time.

  • The faces behind the legend – meet the larger-than-life people who deisgned, sailed on, crewed, and survived the Titanic sinking
  • Tragedy at seas – find out what happened on the night and early morning of April 14-15, 1912, when the Titanic sand and those lucky enough to find a place on a lifeboat waited to be rescued
  • Enduring Titanic mysteries – investigate different theories as to what caused the Titanic's demise and find out why the tragedy has kept conspiracy theorists busy for a century.
  • An ongoing quest for recovery – explore what it took to find the Titanic wreckage and why efforts to retrieve the ship's artifacts are such a source of controversy.

Open the book and find:

  • Why the Titanic has captured the public's imagination
  • How the ship came to be financed, built, and launched
  • What it was like to be a passenger, of every class
  • Firsthand accounts of the terrible night
  • The rescue efforts and the search for survivors
  • Some of the first newspaper accounts of the tragedy
  • Amazing artifacts salvaged from the ship's debris

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the "Titanic expert"... March 1 2012
By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This year is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the "RMS Titanic". Many books are being published to mark the anniversary, and this one, "The Titanic for Dummies", by Stephen Spignesi, is a fun book for the casual reader, interested in the basics of the disaster.

There are many "Titanic" experts who pour over every book written on the subject. This book is not for them. Instead, it gives the "basics" of the sinking - iceberg meets ship. The author delves into the behind-the-scenes details, from the development and building of the ship, to its design and claim to be "unsinkable", to the three levels on the ship, First Class, Second Class, and Steerage. Curiously, for all that I've read about "Titanic", most emphasis has been on the First Class cabins and passengers, and the Steerage cabins and passengers. Second Class seems to be ignored in many books, and this book actually showed a cabin in Second Class and gives other details of that ignored group of passengers.

Also delved into are the "politics" of the ship. Who built it, who designed it, and who steered it into that iceberg. And who went down with the ship. The tragic lack of lifeboats and the mishandling of many of the life boats the ship actually had, meant that fewer passengers survived than could have had the management of the boats been handled better by the crew. What happened after the "Titanic" sunk? Spignesi writes of the many ships in the area who had picked up the "Titanic's" distress calls, rushing to the scene but arriving to late to do anything but pick up the survivors in the life boats. He also tells of the many investigations, both in the US and the UK, which tried to parcel out blame for the sinking and suggest ways to prevent another tragedy.
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By James Gallen TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Did you ever wonder where you could find gobs of interesting facts about The Titanic in one hand spot? If so, go straight for "The Titanic for Dummies". I have long been interested in the Titanic but was by no means a "Titanic Groupie" but I enjoyed every page of this book.

It is organized along the lines of the for "Dummies" series. Each part covers a different aspect of the Titanic story. We are first confronted us with the question of why the Titanic still mystifies us a century after its aborted and tragic voyage? It takes us through its construction, introduces us to its passengers and crew and their lives on board. We are next guided through its short voyage, its sinking, minute by minute, and places us in the boats with the survivors as they heard the screams, watched its stern rise and then disappear and waited for rescue.

Titanic's story did not end after five days. It was just beginning. Author Stephen Spignesi explains the official investigations, both the American search for truth and the British whitewash. We read about the unsolved mysteries, the search to find the cause and to place the blame. What about that novella, "The Wreck of the Titan" that eerily mimicked Titanic's story-14 years before?

It then goes into the quest to recover and explore the Titanic, the role its artifacts and presentations on screen and stages have played in our culture. Finally, The Part of Tens: Fascination Artifacts, Myths Debunked and Terrific Documentaries.

One thing that I really like about this book is the way that Spignesi tries to investigate the myths against the discernible facts. Did you ever hear the story that Titanic was jinxed because the champagne bottle used at its Christening did not break? Wrong!
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the "Titanic expert"... March 1 2012
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This year is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the "RMS Titanic". Many books are being published to mark the anniversary, and this one, "The Titanic for Dummies", by Stephen Spignesi, is a fun book for the casual reader, interested in the basics of the disaster.

There are many "Titanic" experts who pour over every book written on the subject. This book is not for them. Instead, it gives the "basics" of the sinking - iceberg meets ship. The author delves into the behind-the-scenes details, from the development and building of the ship, to its design and claim to be "unsinkable", to the three levels on the ship, First Class, Second Class, and Steerage. Curiously, for all that I've read about "Titanic", most emphasis has been on the First Class cabins and passengers, and the Steerage cabins and passengers. Second Class seems to be ignored in many books, and this book actually showed a cabin in Second Class and gives other details of that ignored group of passengers.

Also delved into are the "politics" of the ship. Who built it, who designed it, and who steered it into that iceberg. And who went down with the ship. The tragic lack of lifeboats and the mishandling of many of the life boats the ship actually had, meant that fewer passengers survived than could have had the management of the boats been handled better by the crew. What happened after the "Titanic" sunk? Spignesi writes of the many ships in the area who had picked up the "Titanic's" distress calls, rushing to the scene but arriving to late to do anything but pick up the survivors in the life boats. He also tells of the many investigations, both in the US and the UK, which tried to parcel out blame for the sinking and suggest ways to prevent another tragedy. Like: have as many life boats needed for both passengers and crew.

"Dummies" is a quick read, a book that actually doesn't have to be read in one sitting. In fact, the author advises against reading it that way. I see it as a treat for that reader who wants to know a little about a very interesting topic.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Nature always wins" March 1 2012
By P. B. Sharp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The "unsinkable Titanic". This book is a fascinating account about everything Titanic from the passenger list to the food to the exercise room to the wondrous transformations offered wealthy men and women in the beauty parlors. Steerage did not swarm with "huddled masses yearning to be free," but with excited immigrants many of whom had spent their life savings ($350 to $900 at today's prices) to secure a bunk on the Titanic. Although class consciousness was alive and well on the Titanic nobody, even the lowliest passengers resented it. A first class stateroom ticket cost in today's money, $100,000. In the days before income tax the rich were rolling in money. And though the steerage passengers had to sweat to pay for their tickets,they were upbeat on the lower decks, their children no doubt joyous and upbeat as well. The great ship had an aura, an awesomeness that affected everybody and in that respect all the passengers were as one.

In 1912 you perhaps felt in a way- in a way- that building such a ship was challenging God. But few people likely thought God would win.The Titanic was simply too big, too luxurious, a leviathan of indestructibility. With her four deep yellow smoke stacks and gleaming decks, her luxurious, famous staircase, the Titanic was a monument to the very best, the epitome of ship building. (The well-known photograph of the beautiful mahogany staircase is actually of the staircase on Titanic's sister ship Olympia. However, the two staircases were identical).

When Titanic entered the treacherous water in a sea of icebergs, she clipped off ice chunks which careened onto the upper deck and playful passengers threw snowballs at each other.Titanic hit the iceberg at 11:40 pm, April 14, 1912. Although the ship was warned of a sea of treacherous icebergs she did not slow down from her 24 miles per hour until the iceberg was right in front of her and the ship was lurched violently to port then to starboard to evade the ice. The iceberg was up to 100 feet high and 400 feet long. When the wreak of the ship was examined on the ocean floor 80 years later, it was found that the actual gash from the collision was only about twelve feet long.

The human story of the Titanic haunts us today. People sitting in the successfully launched lifeboats described the screaming from the decks as the ship started to sink. Many of the passengers were afraid to get into the lifeboats being lowered 65 feet to the chilly black sea far below. Pandemonium resulted in many lifeboats being lowered half full, but there were only twenty lifeboats, half the number necessary to evacuate the passengers. It was inevitable that the severest toll in lives occurred among the people trapped on the lower decks.

The "Unsinkable Molly Brown" was an intrepid lady who managed to get into a lifeboat but insisted that the officer in her boat (Quartermaster Hichens), row back to the sinking ship to rescue people floating in the water. When he refused she said she'd throw him in the water. He complied and Molly became a legend. Her portrait is on page 41 .Captain Smith was reported to be in several places as the ship's bow sank. Some observers saw him in the water where he had rescued a baby. He handed the baby to a lifeboat, disappeared in the frigid water. Others saw him on deck issuing orders until the stern of the Titanic, almost upright, slid into the ocean along with 1500 people, leaving just ripples on the surface of the sea. As author Spignesi remarks Smith "was all over the place," that he could have rescued the baby then swam back to his ship to go down with her. First officer William Murdoch had been seen by some shooting a couple of men who had barged ahead of the women to grab a place in a lifeboat. He was also reported as then shooting himself.

I suppose the $ 64,000 question about the loss of the Titanic is why Smith proceeded into a mine field of icebergs at 24 miles an hour when he had been repeatedly warned by nearby ships of the danger. The author thinks it was just precedent, that nothing had happened to any ship in the same area previously, and that the lookouts up in the crows' nests could spot an iceberg right in front of the liner and give the alarm. The problem was that the night was clear with no wind .It was extremely hard to spot bergs since any wind would have ruffled the sea around the bergs making them more visible. As it turned out, Frederick Fleet spotted the iceberg when it was 500 yards away, rang his alarm bell, and although on hearing the bell First Officer Murdoch "hard-boarded " the ship's wheel and reversed the engines, the Titanic's bow crashed into the berg fatally gashing her starboard side.

The business of the 16 watertight compartments in the hull of the ship has been dissected at great length. Upon the collision the compartments were ordered closed. However, working with a model ship investigators have shown that if the model is gashed and the compartments closed the ship would sink in two hours, exactly like the real thing. If, however, the compartments were left open, water rushing into the ship would even out, flowing the entire length of the ship, not weighing down the ship's bow.

The Titanic for Dummies contains a great deal of information and even those readers with considerable knowledge of the world's most famous shipwreck, should still find new nuggets in this comprehensive book. There are several colored illustrations of the remains of the Titanic sitting on the ocean floor. Incredibly, scientists say that the iron ship is rapidly being "eaten" by iron-loving bacteria and that in a matter of years the wreak will have completely disappeared.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just in time for the 100th anniversary Feb. 28 2012
By RDtoo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have been a Titanic buff since reading Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" back in high school in the early 70s. Lord's book and it's sequel "the Night Lives On", are still the definitive books on the Titanic, in my mind. So, I was not expecting much from this book but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I thought this would be a condensed version of alot of other books and info on the Titanic, which it basically is, but there is alot of info here that I had never heard before, and I have read alot of books on the subject. The book has the latest info on the topic all the way up to the current year. Kudos to the author. While I would have liked to have seen some coverage of things like "the Mystery ship", which wasn't covered, I realize the book is not meant to be exhaustive, but more like an appetizer. This is a perfect starting point for the novice or person with a casual interest in the topic, but the veteran fan will find alot to like here as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Collection of Titanic Facts and Lore May 12 2012
By James Gallen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Did you ever wonder where you could find gobs of interesting facts about The Titanic in one hand spot? If so, go straight for "The Titanic for Dummies". I have long been interested in the Titanic but was by no means a "Titanic Groupie" but I enjoyed every page of this book.

It is organized along the lines of the for "Dummies" series. Each part covers a different aspect of the Titanic story. We are first confronted us with the question of why the Titanic still mystifies us a century after its aborted and tragic voyage? It takes us through its construction, introduces us to its passengers and crew and their lives on board. We are next guided through its short voyage, its sinking, minute by minute, and places us in the boats with the survivors as they heard the screams, watched its stern rise and then disappear and waited for rescue.

Titanic's story did not end after five days. It was just beginning. Author Stephen Spignesi explains the official investigations, both the American search for truth and the British whitewash. We read about the unsolved mysteries, the search to find the cause and to place the blame. What about that novella, "The Wreck of the Titan" that eerily mimicked Titanic's story-14 years before?

It then goes into the quest to recover and explore the Titanic, the role its artifacts and presentations on screen and stages have played in our culture. Finally, The Part of Tens: Fascination Artifacts, Myths Debunked and Terrific Documentaries.

One thing that I really like about this book is the way that Spignesi tries to investigate the myths against the discernible facts. Did you ever hear the story that Titanic was jinxed because the champagne bottle used at its Christening did not break? Wrong! The White Star Line did not Christen its ships. What about Molly Brown insisting that her boat go back for survivors? This one is true. It seems that he tells it as he sees it without trying to either defend or debunk legends merely to be a follower or a cynic. The content acquaints the reader with a broad array of facts about the Titanic and its lore in a very readable format. I devoured it it from cover to cover but one could just as profitably pick and choose the topics that are of interest. To add even more benefit, about 14 hours after finishing the book I went to a trivia night that had three Titanic questions, all of which I aced. I have just gotten into the "Dummies" series in recent months but "The Titanic for Dummies" has to be one of the best.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Titanic For Dummies (For Dummies (History, Biography & Politics) [Kindle Edition] May 10 2012
By Glen Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read it via Kindle and you can pick it up and go anytime you choose. Full of facts and figures, a treat to read and easy on the eye. Highly recommended reading, and especially good for Titanic buffs like me. Glen. (Victoria, Australia)
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