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Titanic: 'Iceberg Ahead' (Hardback)

The Story of the Disaster By Some of those Who Were There

Maritime Frontline Books P&S History Social History 20th Century

By James W Bancroft
Frontline Books
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526772060
Published: 31st March 2021


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To have sailed on ‘the voyage of the century’ aboard White Star Line’s RMS Titanic – described at the time as ‘a floating palace’ – was like being one of the first passengers to fly on Concorde.

On 10 April 1912, people from all walks of life began embarking on Titanic, then the largest ship afloat, for what was to be the trip of a lifetime on the ship’s maiden voyage across the north Atlantic. Many were looking forward to starting new lives in the United States.

However, just before midnight on Sunday, 14 April 1912, Titanic’s crew began to send out distress signals stating, ‘We have struck an iceberg’. The liner had been steaming at speed when it collided with an enormous iceberg which stripped off her bilge under the waterline for more than 100 yards, opened up five of the front compartments and flooded the coal bunker servicing one of the boilers.

The damage was fatal, and some three hours after the disaster began to unfold the last visible part of Titanic slipped beneath the waves. There were only sixteen lifeboats and four collapsible dinghies – which was completely insufficient for the number of passengers making the crossing. As a consequence, more than 1,500 passengers and crew died: two out of every three people onboard perished.

Much has been written about the Titanic disaster, and it has been the subject matter for several films. The author is well-known for his depth of research and his attention to detail, and in a new style of format, he has selected fifty people involved in the disaster, and by using their specific eyewitness accounts he has managed to make the confusing situation much clearer, making it possible for the reader to experience the dreadful events as they unfolded. The book also includes biographical tributes to the fifty people, who came from all walks of life and geographical regions, telling who they were, their experiences during the disaster, and what happened to those who were fortunate enough to survive.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Although much has been written about the Titanic disaster, Bancroft's novel focuses on the cost of human life in the building of the great ship and then on in to the disaster itself. Bancroft tells the life stories of fifty of the passengers and crew, some of whom survived and also some who perished from drowning or from freezing to death. The stories are told in the second portion of the novel. In the first section, however, the reader is led through the building and launch of the ship. The description of the amenities and the wealthy who could afford such a passage is so detailed that the reader experiences the elegance and other-worldliness of the voyage. Well-researched, this novel is a treasure of detail and yet also lends an intimate view of the real people involved in this disaster.

NetGalley, Carol MacArthur

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Described in riveting and vivid detail, "Titanic Iceberg Ahead" is a sobering, fascinating, gut wrenching and poignant book about what happened before the fateful night of April 15, 1912 when 1,516 people were killed after the infamous ship hit a black iceberg and sank. The author relays many experiences, letters and journal entries of those who constructed the ship, the few who decided not to board last minute, survivors and some who died in such detail it took my breath away. The amount of research must have been phenomenal!

>From the time of alarm to two explosions to the complete sinking was only three hours. But what those three hours must have been like! Pure terror. I loved this book a lot and many things stand out in my mind including the personal descriptions of the trip by the sadly unsuspecting people, the high number of those with premonitions, the descriptions of belongings in the pockets of the dead and the courageous orchestra members who played until the very end. So many who survived the sinking drowned in the below freezing water. Women and children were rescued first but the number of lifeboats was alarmingly low with a capacity of 1,178, less than half of those on board! These are just a few of the hundreds of stories and details described. The photographs and especially the biographies of many mentioned by name in the book are moving, both those who survived and those who died. Many could not speak of the horrors for the rest of their lives, some did speak of it to get the true story out. All were affected.

This book should be at the top of Nonfiction readers' lists of books to read for sure. It is THAT good.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is unique, as it shares the perspective of fifty people who experienced the disaster, sharing eyewitness accounts. They describe the vessel itself, the people aboard, and the impressions of people.

There is a list at the end of the book, listing each passenger and crew member, and listing if they survived. This book made the tragedy personal.

NetGalley, Joy K

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a non-fiction book about the Titanic. It is a well developed account of what happened to the ship and its participants. The personal accounts help make you feel as if you were right there with them. This is an interesting, entertaining story of what happened. It was easy to read and understandable which is one of my favorite things about this, the personal accounts was the other thing. I loved this book and highly recommend it to all.

NetGalley, Bobbi Wagner

I’m not alone in being fascinated by the story of the ill-fated ship billed as ‘unsinkable’ which hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage. I have read books, watched films and documentaries and am always ready to read and learn more so I was very excited to read Titanic-Iceberg Ahead. The focus of this book is very much on the people who travelled on the Titanic: the first part being an account of events pieced together through the words of passengers and crew; the second part being short biographies of some of the passengers and crew. This book is meticulously researched and pieced together. I discovered so many details that I had not been aware of or appreciated. Reading the story through the words and accounts of others made it feel more real and imaginable. It also gives a greater sense of the human side and the human cost of this tragedy. The two parts of the book are separately fascinating. The biographies flesh out the human lives that populated the Titanic on its first and last voyage. They are an absorbing read. So many themes emerge: lives destroyed by the tragedy; heroes of the Titanic who went on to be heroic elsewhere; passengers and crew who were only on the Titanic by chance. I think this is a worthy addition to Titanic literature.

NetGalley, Sally Hughes

You can really feel the research put into this book and the attention to detail is fantastic. Fifty eyewitness accounts helps us to experience the horrific events, who they were, the backgrounds they came from and what happened onboard, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the titanic disaster.

NetGalley, Vicky Jones

I loved that this book had parts of letters sent to family from the people who were on the Titanic and parts where these people gave us real words they used about how they felt being on the ship or in the lifeboats afterwards.

The book brought tears to my eyes reading these people's reactions while on the life boards, to think of what they must've seen in these moments. To submerge yourself in their thoughts and feelings in the moment is unreal.

The book was easy to read and understand. Highly recommend for any history buffs like myself!

NetGalley, Chrissie Smith

I love all things Titanic and enjoyed the stories shared in this book... What I treasure are the true life, personal accounts from the ship. These are things that shape perspective. What makes a tragedy such as that of the Titanic feel real and personal.

NetGalley, Jynell Tackett

Very in depth and well researched book, including accounts and letters from passengers that were on board the Titanic. Interesting to learn about incidents that had happened before the ship even set sail!

NetGalley, Nicola Jackson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have read a lot of books about the Titanic and its demise. I have to say this book is one of the best. The attention to detail and the research that has been undertaken is stunning. I found out little known facts about the sinking and also about the people that sailed on her. Crew and passengers alike their stories are all just as important and this book has covered that. The devastation that it caused their families and loved ones is clear to see and the author has also explored that in detail too. It also covers the misinformation that was given out in the early hours/days of the sinking causing more heartache but also uniting families that thought had been lost. I will certainly be buying this book when it comes out in print. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants to enhance their knowledge of the Titanic and its passengers or if you are just interested in this avoidable disaster.

NetGalley, T B

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated by the Titanic so as soon as I saw that this book was being released I was really intrigued and I had the whole book read from cover to cover in a matter of hours of it landing on my Kindle!

I loved the layout and the authors writing style was perfect, I found it addictive and was reading, just one more chapter after the other which is the sign of a really good book for me.

I have read a lot of books on the disaster and this one has stood out for me – it is informative, honest and frank in the statements made. I loved finding out what happened to some of the people that survived too – Charles Lightoller was a revelation and I loved what he was able to achieve after – a remarkable man and the book told me quite a lot I had not read before and particularly enjoyed that the people were the main focus

It is 5 stars from me for this one – it was a great book to read and I loved being able to read the stories of those who were actually involved with the great ship – very highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

This was a huge insight into the survivors and the whole past surrounding the titanic. It really makes you appreciate how terrible it was and how much it affected the survivors lives and other people in the world at that time and in the future.

NetGalley, Kelly Taylor

The Titanic was a disaster of epic proportions, one that would have lasting effects for many years to come. With the "Unsinkable" ship ready to sail, many flocked to its decks, hoping for better lives, celebrating honeymoons, looking for better employment, or just taking pleasure trips.
When the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank on 14 April 1912 - no one could believe it. The iceberg should not have caused the amount of damage, but there were several design flaws, ones that would come back to haunt the massive ocean liner.

Through this book, we get a glimpse inside the ship itself, the people aboard the vessel, and many of their thoughts and impressions on the great liner. What can never be erased is the massive loss of life, due to the fact that there were not enough lifeboats on board for everyone and the lives that were torn apart by the sinking of this ship. This heartbreaking book will keep you captured from page one, giving you a glimpse into the hopes and dreams that were dashed for many that night.
At the end of the book, there is an accounting for several of the passengers and crew, whether they lived or died, and even providing some background on them. These stories bring home the humanness of it all, the real live people who had their lives cut short, dreams lost, and for some, the inability to get over the guilt of having survived the sinking.

I highly recommend this book! It was amazing, and I truly enjoyed it!

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

So much information. Loved hearing another book about the Titanic. Very detailed book.

NetGalley, Kay ODell

James W. Bancroft has done an excellent job of recounting the journey and sinking of the Titanic in his book. His research is brilliant and this definitely shows.

I very much enjoyed the style of including accounts from 'some of those who were there', it really brought the book to life. Some of the descriptions nearly brought tears and they were woven seamlessly with the author narrative.

NetGalley, Amy Jordan

This is a very interesting and informative little tome..

I knew that there were accidents during the building of the ship, but did not know that eight men died during the building process of the Titanic in the Harland & Wolfe shipyard.

I also found fascinating how the firemen/stokers and trimmers kept the ship moving and loaded with coal even after she was mortally damaged. I have seen the movie about the heroic firemen, etc., that kept the lights on as the Titanic went down. Absolutely wonderfully done! And the musicians.

There is an extensive listing of some of those who survived that awful night, and those who didn't. It talks about their histories, where they came from and a little about their families.

This is followed by a description of how the press handled the emergency/disaster, and an extensive bibliography for those who would like to further explore the subject.

And pictures! With captions!

All in all, this is a good book, told in clear and concise style. It covers aspects about the voyage that no one else (that I have read, anyway), has thought to discuss. Very well done, Mr. Bancroft.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

About James W Bancroft

JAMES BANCROFT has produced more than 100 books and articles, the subjects of which reflect his varied interests. He has contributed a number of articles for The New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and his book Rorke’s Drift: The Zulu War, 1879 has been re-printed seven times. His JWB Historical Library, compiled over four decades, is one of the largest private collections of its kind in the world. When he is not writing, James enjoys singing and playing and listening to music, and being with his growing family.

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