Titanic centennial inspires array of books

New Delhi: Timed to coincide with centennial of the sinking of the Titanic, a number of books have been lined up to shed new light on the enduring disaster and how it continues to haunt those who escaped the shipwreck.

Besides several new books hitting the newsstands in the past couple of months, many earlier works on the compelling tragedy of 1912 are being re-issued.

Leading the pack is "Titanic, First Accounts", a fascinating firsthand account of the Titanic in a deluxe package with graphic cover art. The book, published by Penguin and edited by Tim Maltin and Nicholas Wade, has historic accounts and testimonies by survivors and eye-witnesses including Lawrence Beesley, Margaret Brown, Archibald Gracie, Carlos F Hurd and many more.

"How to Survive the Titanic: The Sinking of J Bruce Ismay" by award-winning historian Frances Wilson delivers a gripping new account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, looking at the collision and its aftermath through the prism of the demolished life and lost honour of the ship’s owner, J Bruce Ismay.

In a unique work of history evocative of Joseph Conrad`s classic novel "Lord Jim", Wilson raises provocative moral questions about cowardice and heroism, memory and identity, survival and guilt – questions that revolve around Ismay`s loss of honour and identity as his monolithic venture – a ship called "The Last Word in Luxury" and "The Unsinkable" – was swallowed by the sea and subsumed in infamy forever.

The book, published by HarperCollins, spins a new epic: when the ship hit the iceberg on April 14, 1912, and one thousand men, lighting their last cigarettes, prepared to die, Ismay jumped into a lifeboat filled with women and children and rowed away to safety.

In "Voyagers of the Titanic", also published by HarperCollins, Richard Davenport-Hines delves into the fascinating lives of those who ate, drank, reveled, dreamed, and died aboard the mythic ship: from John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest person on board, whose comportment that night was subject to speculation and gossip for years after the event, to Archibald Butt, the much-beloved military aide to Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, who died helping others into the Titanic`s few lifeboats.

"Voyagers of the Titanic" also brings to life the untold stories of the ship`s middle and third classes -clergymen, teachers, hoteliers, engineers, shopkeepers, counterjumpers, and clerks – each of whom had a story that not only illuminates the fascinating ship but also the times in which it sailed.

Then there is "Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived" (Simon & Schuster) by Andrew Wilson which sheds new light on this enduringly fascinating story by showing how the disaster continued to shape the lives of a cross-section of passengers who escaped the sinking ship.

Other books on the sinking include "Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic" (Da Capo) by Daniel Allen Butler, "Titanic: Voices from the Disaster" (Scholastic) by Deborah Hopkinson, "Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook the World? One Century Later" (Life Books), "Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town? (Oxford University Press) by John Weisman and a reissue "Titanic: The Death and Life of a Legend" (Vintage Books) by Michael Davie.

Amazon has put up a list of best Titanic books. The top 10 books in this list are: "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord, "Titanic: The Long Night" by Diane Hoh. "882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic" by Laurie Coulter, "Titanic: An Illustrated History" by Donald Lynch, "Remembering the Titanic" by Diane Hoh, "Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy" by John P Eaton, "Titanic: Legacy of the World`s Greatest Ocean Liner" by Susan Wels, "Polar the Titanic Bear" by Daisy Corning Stone Spedden, "Titanic" by Simon Adams and "Inside the Titanic" by Ken Marschall.