I cannot believe it’s taken the impending 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to compel me to finally delve into Walter Lord’s 1955 recounting of the great ship’s final hours, A Night to Remember. As detailed in the foreward to the fiftieth anniversary reissue, Lord possessed a lifelong, enduring fascination with the doomed Titanic, perhaps born out of a childhood trip on her sistership Olympia. Irregardless of the origin, Lord’s passion for the subject shines in this slim volume’s tightly-plotted recreation of the ship’s final hours and the sinking’s aftermath. Lord was in the unique and enviable position of being able to interview over sixty survivors of the sinking for his book, which he then incorporated into a blow-by-blow recreation of every moment — from the collision with the iceberg to the Carpathia’s rescue of less than a third of the Titanic’s total passenger list. Lord’s brisk, documentary style makes you feel as if you’re watching a film of events unfold, lending the gradually dawning realization of the enormity of the danger facing the ship a depth and intensity that makes this an absolute page-turner.
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