The Last Night of a Small Town
By John Welshman
(Oxford University Press, USA, Hardcover, 9780199595570, 324pp.)
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $29.95*
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In Titanic, Welshman offers a minute-by-minute account of the doomed liner's last hours, based on a representative cross-section of those who sailed in her: men and women, old and young, passengers and crew, wealthy and poor. He introduces the reader to a fascinating cast of twelve eye-witnesses, including Arthur H. Rostron, Captain of the Carpathia, the first ship to reach the scene; Charles Lightoller, the Titanic's Second Officer; Archibald Gracie, a wealthy American cotton plantation owner; Elin Hakkarainen, a young migrant from Finland, travelling Third Class; and Edith Brown, a teenager from South Africa. The book also documents the experiences of an Assistant Wireless Operator, a Stewardess, an amateur military historian, a governess, a teacher, and a domestic servant. The survivor accounts allow Welshman to construct a graphic and compelling picture of events on a day-to-day and hour-by-hour basis, providing vivid glimpses of the tragedy as seen from their respective vantage points. In addition, Welshman tells the story of where these twelve people were from and what happened to those who survived in the years afterwards. Finally, the author, a respected social historian, offers many insights into nineteenth-century social class, migration, work, and the broader history of Northern Ireland.
Drawing on published autobiographical accounts, diaries, private papers, archival materials, and a wide array of other sources, Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town offers a unique account of one of the most memorable disasters in modern history.