The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night the Titanic Was Lost by Daniel Allen Butler
|The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night the Titanic Was Lost by Daniel Allen Butler|
|Reviewer: Peter Magee|
|Summary: A close look at the part played by the Californian and in particular by Captain Stanley Lord on the night the Titanic sank. Readable and thought-provoking.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: February 2011|
It's now almost a century since the loss of the Titanic and although much has been written about almost every aspect of that dreadful night one point has remained a mystery. When the wireless operator on the 'unsinkable' Titanic radioed that the ship had hit an iceberg, had too few lifeboats for all passengers and was sinking fast there were two ships in the vicinity. Captain Arthur Rostron on the Carpathia responded to the distress signal and hastened to the Titanic's aid. But Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian did not respond. The ship's radio officer had retired for the night and Lord failed to take decisive action later that night when told about distress flares from the Titanic. The controversy as to why the two captains should have acted so differently has raged across the intervening years.
Butler has a long-running interest in the events of that night and writes with authority on the subject, setting the scene with what travellers could expect in the early part of the twentieth century and the background to the two Captains which might well have influenced their different reactions. He looks in some detail at the coverage of the involvement of the Californian in the British and American enquiries and draws his own conclusions about Captain Lord.
The book is very readable and particularly accessible to the general reader, with additional information for the specialist researcher in the extensive Sources and Bibliography. I was reading for enjoyment and the book stood up well even after a recent reading of How to Survive the Titanic or the Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson, with the subjects being complementary rather than overlapping to an unreasonable extent. Butler's research has obviously been extensive and his airing of the views of a wide cross-section of the people involved gives the book a freshness which could easily have been lost.
If you have any knowledge of the sinking of the Titanic you will have your view on the culpability or otherwise of Captain Stanley Lord and Butler reaches his own conclusion. The Captain of the Carpathia was honoured for his actions – including the receipt of a Congressional Gold Medal, but Lord felt he was vilified until the day he died. Whatever your opinion this book will give you pause for thought.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If you are interested in the Titanic we can recommend Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History by Nick Barratt.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night the Titanic Was Lost by Daniel Allen Butler at Amazon.com.
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