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Why the Titanic was Doomed (Hardback)

Maritime P&S History Social History 20th Century Titanic

By Bryan Jackson
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 32 mono
ISBN: 9781399097161
Published: 1st April 2022

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Titanic – the most magnificent ocean liner of her time – was doomed and destined for disaster before she ever left the docks at Southampton. Doomed by her owner, doomed by her designers, doomed by the men who sailed her -- doomed even by her sister ship.

Author Bryan Jackson presents a new and unique look at the many circumstances that came together the night of April 14, 1912 to claim over 1,500 lives and leave Titanic lying in 12,000 feet of water on the bottom of the North Atlantic.

Each chapter details how seemingly disconnected pieces served to create a tragedy that remains as significant today as it was over a century ago. They include flawed design decisions, outdated regulations, substandard materials, weather conditions, lookouts left blinded and warnings never acted upon. Perhaps the most fascinating piece is a look at how events involving sister ship Olympic would result in Titanic being placed directly on course to meet the iceberg which would sink her.

In addition, Jackson offers a look at the circumstances that saved some from perishing in the tragedy. They range from the rich and famous -- to family members traveling in third-class who managed to escape the sinking while the majority of the passengers sailing in those accommodations would not survive.

Also provided is a comprehensive Titanic timeline which details the events which lead to her construction -- and eventual destruction.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

We have all heard the story of why the Titanic sank-it hit an iceberg. But did it? This book reveals an alternative account of why the Titanic was doomed before it even left the shipyard. A fascinating account, well-written, well-researched. Definitely a recommended read.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

I have to say right from the start, I thought this book was brilliant. I loved the writing, the format and the amount of research and work gone into it is enormous. I really enjoyed the way the book had been split into 14 important reasons why the Titanic was doomed, and doomed from the start. The book looks at how the ship was built, the materials used, the lack of staff training, cheap equipment and how aesthetics was put over safety and comfort. Oh and there was a big iceberg too.

The reasons or possible reasons for the sinking were in some cases just staggering. Although I am not a huge fan of Titanic history, I must say that I learnt so much from reading this book. But to think the owner of the company managed to survive the sinking by getting into a lifeboat sticks in the throat, as it was some of his decisions that doomed the ship. I loved reading this book and I can honestly say it is already in my top 3 books of the year. A book I would wholeheartedly recommend to others.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

Why The Titanic Was Doomed is a critical evaluation of the reason(s) why Titanic met the fate that it did in April 15th, 1912. If you ask someone why the Titanic sank, more times than not you will be told it was because of an iceberg. While this is true,researcher Bryan Jackson argues that there were also several other things that could have attributed to the sinking. Topics such as the way the ship was built, the way that the crew handled the messages regarding icebergs, and the idea that Titanic was unsinkable are discussed and it is explained how each could have impacted the untimely end of the magnificent ship. It is argued that the "ship of dreams" may very well have been doomed before it even left her first port.

When discussing how the Titanic was built, the author describes some of the short cuts that may have been taken due to time and money. These included man made welding versus machinery welding, limiting the amount of space for life boats, substandard materials, and potentially outdated requirements for all ocean liners. The type of welding played a role because if it had been done by machinery it would have been more secure and thus harder for the water to force its way aboard the ship. Outdated regulations is a topic that comes up multiple times through out the book including examples of how some of these regulations were changed after the tragedy of the Titanic. The limited number of life boats has been a highly debated topic when discussing the sinking of the Titanic. There were only 20 lifeboats aboard the ship and this amount of lifeboats was no where near what was needed to save all the passengers. Originally, there was going to be more lifeboats but the decision was made to pull back the amount in order to create more space for leisure and walking. Personally, I would have much rather had the extra lifeboats!

The Titanic received multiple warnings about ice fields in the area which they were sailing. Some of these made it to Captain Smith for evaluation while others were set aside and not deemed as important. Apparently it was more important to get the messages out to loved ones especially after the transmitter was down for a period of time. If these warnings had been taken more seriously, there would have been more time prepare, reduce speed, and potentially avoid disaster. Unfortunately a major part of this avoidance came from thinking that nothing could possibly happen to this unsinkable ship.

The idea that the Titanic was unsinkable started off relatively innocent. During construction it was going to be a ship that was "nearly unsinkable". Somewhere along the way the "nearly" part of the idea disappeared and the "unsinkable ship" idea was pushed to the forefront. This was obviously human error and a very costly human error. If this concept had not been brought up perhaps things would have been taken more seriously. Instead anyone involves with the Titanic became very cocky and truly started to believe the unsinkable message. Although I have known about this before, I couldn't help but cringe the way the author described it and analyzed it. Sadly it seems to the ego of some destroyed the lives of so many.

Why The Titanic Was Doomed is well researched and easy to read. There is alot of information here but it is put together in a very concise manner. Bryan Jackson uses newpaper articles, quotes from survivors, outlines of the building project and the sailing plan in order to formulate his argument. The information is also very interconnected with what ultimately happened. There are alot of "what if" scenarios and sadly even after 110 years our questions may never really be answered regarding what could have prevented the events of that tragic night.

NetGalley, Allison Lamphere

...one of the best books ever written on the disappearing of this big ship: quick, concise, but at the same time incredibly, incredibly informative.

alfemminile.blogspot.com - Anna Maria Polidori

Very well researched and interesting to read.

While the Titanic disaster has been picked over many times by many different eyes none has been as fact full (in my opinion) as this book. It was filled with all snippets of the events that led to the possibility of disaster, from the accidents that happened before the ship even left the dock to the way that the rivets were made and how they could have been weaker.

NetGalley, Claire Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The author shares his aim in the preface of this book, writing:
“...one perspective always seemed to be missing–the many circumstances, large and small, that came together to doom the ship that many had considered unsinkable” (p. viii)

While most people would attribute the sinking of the Titanic to the iceberg that it collided with, this book aims to show the series of events that led to its destruction prior to it even setting off on its maiden voyage. Despite all of the careful planning and an astonishing budget of 7.5 million dollars, so much was overlooked throughout the process that led to the departure of the ship. Jackson looks at 14 different circumstances, one in each of the main chapters, to illustrate how this series of unfortunate events led to the well-known disaster.

The sinking of the ship, which occurred 110 years ago as of then posting of this review, seemed to be impossible. Not only was this due to the way the ship was advertised; but its sister ship, the Olympic, survived what would have been a fatal collision with another boat if not for its size and the skill of the crew involved. Ultimately, however, this sister ship would heavily contribute to the tragedy of the Titanic, as it not only took parts off the now infamous ship, but also delayed its departure by a month. This seemingly insignificant time period, unfortunately, may be the reason why the ship even encountered an iceberg. This level of detailed insight continues throughout the book, providing a fantastic snapshot of the demise of the ship on its inaugural voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

There was speculation that perhaps the commander of the ill-fated ship, Captain Edward Smith, it’s owner, Mr. Ismay of the company White Star, and other crew were warned about the location of the massive icebergs. While there exist credible witnesses in the 705 survivors (about a third of those onboard), this leads to a curious train of thought about both the hubris and the carelessness of those in charge of the different facets of operation of the famed vessel.

Ultimately, the picture painted by Jackson is one of a perfect storm, where the culmination of the events outlined all likely played a key role in the eventual outcome of the Titanic. Told from an abundance of factual evidence about the ship and it’s plight, Jackson illustrates how all of these coincidental events contributed to the catastrophe. He even includes snippets of transcripts from both the British Inquiry and the US Senate hearing on the disaster, outlining some of the circumstances that contributed to the sinking of the reputed “unsinkable” ship. Another interesting source, of the many included, is the report entitled Metallurgy of the RMS Titanic, which details yet another overlooked flaw in the ship’s construction.

The final section of the book features timelines, statistics and thorough information about both the survivors and what happened immediately after the Titanic sank. This timeline and data served to give more perspective to the magnitude of the death toll, while the details of what came next were just as fascinating as the various reasons cited for the sinking within the book’s main chapters. These final sections also served to show the differences in the ship’s three classes, demonstrating the social hierarchy during the era. Of this appendix section, I was most interested by the improvements made to both the Olympia and other ships following the disaster. If there was to be one bright spot amidst the tragedy, it was the White Star company's understanding of the necessity of ensuring their ships were operating safely, and with enough lifeboats, going forward.

>From the aformentioned design flaws, to weather conditions, to the lunar cycle, to incompetence, lack of preparedness, and/or carelessness of members of the crew at practically every level, there were several causes of the eventual fate of the Titanic. While its collision with the fatal iceberg is common knowledge, this book dives into the realities for those involved with the creation, oversight and even for the passengers aboard. Jackson clearly spent a great deal of time researching the information shared, and is clearly fascinated by the subject in a way that is contagious while reading. If you’re at all curious about maritime history and the evolution of regulations for sea vessels, or this particular disaster, this is definitely a book that will satisfy your quest for answers.

NetGalley, Kristina Wilson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I've read most books on the Titanic that I could get my hands on. This book is differently simply because it shows each step from the beginning of the ship building to the night of her sinking that took her to the bottom of the ocean. This is a very interesting book. Like most books on the subject of Titanic, there isn't a whole lot of new information. You will however find this book one of the most interesting books written about the Titanic. The writing flows and even a first time reader of Titanic history will enjoy and understand this book.

NetGalley, Stacey Bradley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am a really big fan of anything to do with the Titanic but didn't really think I would enjoy another book about the subject. How wrong I was absolutely loved this book. Great facts, great story telling brilliant. The pictures were a real delight at the end totally recommend.

NetGalley, Joanne Butler

As featured in: 'Titanic remembered on day ship met its fate'

News Letter (Belfast)

Titanic – the most magnificent ocean liner of her time – was doomed and destined for disaster before she ever left the docks at Southampton. Author Bryan Jackson presents a new and unique look at the many circumstances that came together on the night of April 14, 1912, to claim over 1,500 lives and leave the Titanic lying in 12,000 feet of water on the bottom of the North Atlantic.

Jackson organizes his book around fourteen main chapters with each chapter exploring the various circumstances that may seem disconnected but combined together on the night of April 14 leading to the biggest naval disaster. They include flawed design decisions, outdated regulations, substandard materials, weather conditions, lookouts left blinded, delayed maiden voyage, the coal strike before the voyage, and warnings never acted upon among others. The book also provides a comprehensive timeline that details the events which lead to her faulty construction -- and eventual destruction.

The last section talks about the aftermath of the Titanic. The book goes into great detail—to find out the events after the tragedy including the fate of the crew, owners, some survivors of the tragedy, and also other ships like--the Olympic, the Britannic, the Carpathia, the Californian, which were quite interesting. There are many books about Titanic but very few discuss the events that happened after the tragedy, which were both fascinating and engaging.

The book contains an appendix and some wonderful pictures of the building, launching, and sea trials of the great ship, important people associated with the ship, and various artifacts.
This is a history of the Titanic mostly focusing on the mistakes that all added up to contribute to the tragedy. The book mainly focuses on the “WHY” rather than the “HOW” and does not fall back on pointing out the human errors and corporate greed responsible for some of the ill-fated decisions such as the captain choosing to not slow down in the dark as they entered the ice fields, or not enough lifeboats or faulty design to accommodate more rich passengers and others.

This book has been very well researched and has been well written to include every possible detail. Though there are many books about Titanic and I have read quite a few of them, this book contained lots of relatively unknown facts and has been a fascinating read. The chapters present all the information in clear and concise chapters which were easy to read. If you are interested in reading and understanding more about the Titanic disaster, this book is a must-read for you.

NetGalley, Sumit RK

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great comprehensive read for Titanic experts and novices alike!
I've been a passionate Titanic buff for like 15 years now, seen many documentaries and read many books and articles, which is why I'm always so happy to find new resources with information new to me. And this book delivered.
The Titanic disaster was indeed nothing but a perfect storm and Bryan Jackson did an amazing job getting and organizing all of this information into one place, into one very well written and easily digestible book. I certainly learned some information I didn't know before.
In addition to all of the factors that contributed to the ship's demise the author also includes info on other ships and people that took part in the tragedy, a detailed timeline and historical photos (always my favorite part).

NetGalley, Ajla Gobeljic

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very informative and exceptionally well researched book on what can be an over saturated subject matter.

Jacksons book is well written and well paced and raises some interesting points, drawing in much information from multiple sources into one place.

The book addresses the horror of those who lost their lives and everything they owned but denies to dwell in graphic details of the moments of the sinking of the ship which is to its merit.

A must read for any titanic enthusiast.

NetGalley, Shell Roberts

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love reading any type of historical book about the titanic and feel like I never know enough! There are always new facts and discoveries to be made.

NetGalley, Isla Rose

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As a person who has read several books on the Titanic as well as watching many documentaries and movies I wandered if this new title would add much to my knowledge and understanding so I was pleasantly surprised to find that indeed it did! The author takes a unique approach to telling the story where each chapter reviews a specific circumstance that contributed to the disaster and, as he says, if any of these circumstance had been different or avoided altogether the outcome could have been so different. This approach is similar to accident and incident investigations carried out in hazardous industries where disasters occur through the failure of multiple "layers of protection". The benefit of this approach to the story allows the reader to gather facts about separate failures of design, equipment, materials, human judgement as well as prevailing circumstances of weather, schedules and coinciding events. It is a fascinating exercise where the reader can draw their own conclusions but it is clear that there were multiple opportunities to avoid the incident or at least to mitigate the consequences.
Clearly there has been a lot of research on the material for this book as is shown in the breath of detail. What readers will also appreciate is the skill he has used to bring it all together into a well written and cohesive story. Quite the page turner!

NetGalley, Michael Neill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The second book I’ve read in the past few days on the titanic I found this book so absorbing. I was fascinated by the circumstances that saved some from perishing in the tragedy. They range from the rich and famous to family members traveling in third-class who managed to escape the sinking while the majority of the passengers sailing in those accommodations would not survive. Absolutely recommend this brilliant piece of history!

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

Article: 'New accounts of circumstances which led to tragedy: LAST DAYS OF THE TITANIC - WHAT REALLY HAPPENED'

News Letter (Belfast)

I have always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic. The "Unsinkable" giant of the ocean was fated to sink on its maiden voyage on a freezing April night of 1912.

Bryan Jackson's work is superbly researched and well-written. I raced through the book - it is accessible and enjoyable. A must-read for anyone who's interested in the Titanic.

NetGalley, James Doyle

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The sinking of Titanic still fascinates more than 100 years after it happened. The overarching question is why it happened, when the ship was supposed to be unsinkable. Bryan Jackson gives 14 specific circumstances that contributed to Titanic's demise. "Why the Titanic Was Doomed" is a must-read for any Titanic history buff. Jackson's reasonings are simple, straightforward facts. They paint a picture that, at times, had me shaking my head at the human folly that led to this disaster. I came away knowing more and understanding better how and why Titanic sank. Definitely a worthwhile read.

NetGalley, Mariama Thorlu-Bangura

I love the Titanic and I love that this book brings up such interesting theories.

Extremely well researched and the pace of the story is spot on, considering the fact that some of the facts mentioned here are not necessarily understood by all readers.

Jackson tackles a very worn subject matter and manages to give us information we did not have.

Very, very interesting and I loved picturing all of it in my mind.

NetGalley, Tina Avon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First sentence from the preface: It is an understatement to say that much has been written about one of the world's most famous ships, Titanic.

First sentence from the introduction: Ask someone what caused the Titanic to sink and they will tell you, 'It hit an iceberg.'

Premise/plot: Bryan Jackson argues in his book that the Titanic was doomed before it ever left the shipyard. He organizes his book around fourteen main circumstances. But within each "main" circumstance, there seemed to be more additional circumstances that would reasonably lead to trouble or "doom" for the Titanic. For example, the first circumstance is "A Delayed Maiden Voyage," the third circumstance is, "Telegrams That Could Have Changed History," and the twelfth circumstance, "The Coal Strike that Increased the Death Toll."

The first hundred pages (give or take) are sharing all the reasons--or circumstances--why the Titanic was doomed. The last hundred pages (give or take) are sharing about the aftermath of the Titanic. The book goes into great detail--before, during, and after. And it brings in related subjects. Like other ships--the Olympic, the Britannic, the Carpathia, the Californian.

My thoughts: I LOVED this one. It was packed with facts and details. While I had definitely heard some of these facts before, there were plenty new-to-me facts that kept me turning pages. Reading all these facts--the way he compiles these together--it is easy to form a big picture. It is easy to conclude alongside the author that yes, the Titanic was doomed.

I loved both sections. I found the first half fascinating and engaging. I couldn't stop reading. Yes, I knew what happened and what was coming. But I was learning. And what wasn't "new" information was being put into context in a better way. Instead of being "scattered" or completely random tidbits, I was putting everything together into a whole picture. The second half might be considered side tangents--in some ways--but I found it still to be of interest.

NetGalley, Becky Laney

Excellent book about the sinking of the Titanic, especially if you are looking for the specifics and nuts and bolts aspect. Amazingly detailed and a step by step approach on how this supposedly unsinkable ship, sank to the icy depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. Fascinating stuff.

NetGalley, Nick Borrelli

'Why the Titanic Was Doomed' is a well researched and well written account of how and why the disaster occurred, I was impressed by how Bryan Jackson was thorough in detailing each aspect, and yet it still felt relatively 'bite-sized' which I think was due to concentrating on the failures themselves that ked to the sinking (rather than a complete account.)

I also liked how he wasn't too entrenched in a viewpoint on how much one factor played a part, and both sides of the 'what-ifs' were presented without bias.

Lastly, I felt it struck a very good tone over the tragedy and the lives lost, it was handled sensitively not sensationally.

NetGalley, Neil Meaton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly researched, Why the Titanic was Doomed brings all of the issues the Titanic faced into one well written book. Jackson shows a clear passion for the subject throughout the book and lays all the facts on the table for the reader to fully understand what happened. It wasn’t just the iceberg, it was many things, small and large, that led to the disaster, all of which can be found in this book. Utterly fascinating and well worth a read.

NetGalley, Kymberly Whitacre

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really love the amount of information that I learned from this book, even having read several other books about Titanic. The information was presented in a clear, organized way. I couldn’t put it down.

NetGalley, Cheyenne Schweikert

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really love the amount of information that I learned from this book, even having read several other books about Titanic. The information was presented in a clear, organized way. I couldn’t put it down.

NetGalley, Cheyenne Schweikert

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“The White Star Line never officially said that Titanic was ‘unsinkable’”

What a delight this book was!

My favourite part has to be the description that some Titanic enthusiasts are called… ‘Titaniacs’ THATS ME!!!!

I found out so many interesting things in this book, some I already knew but plenty that I didn’t.

It was such a fascinating read and I devoured it within 2 days.

If you are a Titaniacs this is a must read!

NetGalley, georgi_lvs_books .

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated about the Titanic ever since I was small, even more so as I had ancestors on the fated vessel and so it is a personal interest for me. This book was very well written and had obviously been well researched. Everyone knows the story of the titanic and I have researched a lot myself but this book contained information that I didn't know and so I learnt a lot.
A very emotive yet fascinating read.

NetGalley, Aria Harlow

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Bryan Jackson does a very good job in telling the reasons he believes that may have contributed to the Titanic disaster on April 14-15, 1912. He lists potential structural problems such as rivets and the metal used. Something I’m so glad he mentioned was that the “watertight” bulkheads weren’t watertight at all. They did not reach all the way up to the bottom of the deck above. I have always focused on this problem, and I am glad someone finally put the issue in writing.

He also speaks of the environmental conditions and the human error which may have also contributed. He even discusses the Olympic’s collision with the HMS Hawk and how that could have had an effect on the disaster simply by delaying the Titanic’s sailing time.

He did not fail to mention the tragic human cost of the ship’s sinking. He treated the people with care and kindness. I was pleased with this. He was completely neutral in reporting the issues with some survivors who were ostracized for their actions. He simply reported their actions (as we know them), and left it there without comment or condemnation.

The book contains an appendix and some wonderful pictures of the building, launching and sea trials of the great ship. Also included are several more interesting pictures of people and artifacts.

This is a very well written and plotted book. It is laid out in clear and concise chapters in an easy to read format. While it is history, it is not at all dry. I recommend it to any Titanic aficionado or those who are interested in ship disasters or ships in general.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A must read for anyone who wants to know What Happened in terms of the Titanic’s sinking.

This is a history of the Titanic mostly focusing on the technology involved, but also the environmental factors and human error that all added up to contribute to the tragedy.

Jackson’s book is well presented and technical, but not at all dry, and, despite the academic approach, still manages to break you heart as he walks you through events, step by step, showing all the missed chances for the disaster to be prevented.

He also never forgets the human cost of this maritime disaster, using quotes from people who there to speak about the sinking and making this 100+ year old history fresh and relatable, while also making sure to try and keep out bias and judgement.

Jackson presents the long list of items that contributed to the sinking in a concise and easy to read manner, some well-known, such as the captain choosing to not slow down in the dark as they entered the ice fields, others shocking, such as the 1,000 year event of a super-full moon that caused record high tides, bringing record amounts of ice down into the shipping lanes.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in the Titanic.

NetGalley, Kara Race-Moore

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book by Bryan Jackson. It was very well done and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

NetGalley, Sarah Pesnell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating insight into why the Titanic may have been doomed even before that fateful night in April 1912.

Well written, easy to read, it had my emotions all over the place - tears, shock, anger, joy for those who were saved. The layout also helped the ease of reading; having it split so that each chapter explored something different worked really well.

A must read for those with an interest in the Titanic.

NetGalley, Sarah Goddard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is one of the more interesting books I’ve ever read about the titanic. It’s a narrative of all the things that went wrong in the voyage that contributed to the sinking. Some I was aware of and some I’ve never heard it before. Incredibly interesting and worth reading!

NetGalley, Lynn Beck

About Bryan Jackson

Bryan Jackson is a long-time public relations professional, writer and former broadcast journalist. He has served as Press Officer to two New York State Governors, covered politics and government as State Capitol Bureau Chief for the National Broadcasting Company, as well as for several New York City broadcast stations. His career also includes broadcast station construction and ownership.


His interest in the Titanic began as a teenager after reading Walter Lord’s book A Night to Remember. He has since spent extensive time researching the ship and the events which lead to her sinking, including interviewing Titanic’s last survivor, Mellvina Dean and George Tulloch, who became Salvor-in-Possession of the Titanic and made five dives to the wreck site.


Today, he continues to explore Titanic’s story and occasionally lectures on the disaster. In addition to writing, he also serves from time to time as a substitute teacher and often shares his research and knowledge of the Titanic with his students.


Bryan is married to his wife, Nora, and lives with their two dogs, Patches and Bo, in upstate New York.

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