Titanic: A Very Peculiar History, with added iceberg – Jim Pipe, illustrated by David Antram

Prepare for an information explosion with every turn of the page when you read Titanic, A Very Peculiar History. If you like facts, lots of facts, then this is definitely a book for you. The story of the Titanic from planning to building to sinking is told in narrative form. Interspersed text boxes provide information about everything from the design and construction of the ship to the vast quantities of food which were taken on board, the animals who travelled and those few lucky people who missed the boat and so lived to tell the tale.

Find out about mass emigration to America and the dangers of Davy Jones’ Locker. Meet the crew and learn about their various jobs. Acquaint yourself with the passengers and find out what they did all day. Discover what people took with them when they left the sinking ship and stand by as some Titanic myths are exploded by the author.

Explore the history of shipbuilding, and through the author’s description and the illustrator’s images get a tiny glimpse of the splendour and opulence of Victorian and Edwardian ocean going liners. Discover fascinating facts about the White Star Line, some of the characters who owned and ran the company and how competition with its rival company Cunard informed many of the design features of Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic.

Then examine the question of who was responsible. Was it the lookout who failed to spot the iceberg in time? Was it the Captain, who ordered the ship to keep moving? Or was it a design fault which left the mythically unsinkable ship dangerously vulnerable? Why was no notice taken of the iceberg warnings? Why was the wireless operator too busy to heed a message? Would more people have survived if there had been enough lifeboats? And why did so many passengers ignore the warnings until it was too late?

Not only is a great wealth of information concealed between the covers of this book, but the cover itself is a key feature in portraying a bygone age. Based on the company’s luggage labels, it has white stars embedded in a silver background. Antram’s cartoons and illustrations both enhance the text and add humour.

For any reader who wants to know more about the Titanic, this book is essential.  In fact, it is so rich in detail that if you only read one Titanic book, make sure it is this one.

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