Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson

by on April 3rd, 2012
Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson Cover Image

I admit it: I like celebrating anniversaries. Whether it’s for Dickens’ 200th birthday or the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I mark the dates with a book or a documentary.  However, due to a certain film by a certain director, I wasn’t interested in the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15th). As far as I was concerned, the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean.  End of story. After stumbling upon Andrew Wilson’s Shadow of the Titanic, I’ve changed my mind.

Rather than providing an account of the sinking of the Titanic or a history of its building and demise, Wilson focuses on the people who survived the disaster and how the event was a turning point in their lives.  Some, like Renee Harris, Madeleine Astor, and Marian Thayer, lost their husbands; J. Bruce Ismay and Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon lost their reputations. Silent film actress Dorothy Gibson survived the sinking, but had to relive the whole experience when she starred in Saved from the Titanic, a film made days after the disaster by Jules Brulatour, who also happened to be Gibson’s lover.  (That relationship didn’t last long.)  What is fascinating is how some used the experience to change their lives and work for something, while others found the Titanic a black mark that they couldn’t escape. Of course, all the stories are noticeably those of first-class women.

There are times when I wish Wilson held back.  He would often surmise what individuals were thinking or what their priorities were with little evidence, making harsh judgments on certain survivors.  However, it is an interesting and surprising approach to the Titanic‘s history.

You can mark the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic by picking up Shadow of the Titanic (or the thirty other books we own).  The library is also showing A Night to Remember (1958) on Thursday, April 12th at 7 pm in Meeting Room A.

2 Responses to “Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson”

  1. Elyse says:

    at first i thought, “Who’s Andrew Wilson” and “why and How he is posting a blog?”

    I am curious about how you stumbled upon it, though.

  2. Anne says:

    Hey Elyse,

    There was an excerpt from Shadow of the Titanic in Smithsonian magazine that covered Dorothy Gibson, the silent film star who survived and made a film a few weeks later based on her survival story. Aside from the fact I’m on a silent film kick,I thought the story bizarre.

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