Friday, June 1, 2012

Titanic Sinks!

The story of the Titanic has always riveted me. Imagine believing that you are on an invincible vessel and enjoying your chablis, only to find out the ship is sinking and you are in the middle of the frigid Atlantic, about to take the ultimate plunge!  Author Barry Denenberg's Titanic Sinks, that received several starred reviews, including the one linked here in Kirkus Reviews, didn't disappoint me.

To tell the story, Denenberg created a fictional journalist S.F. Vanni, the Chief Correspondent for the fictional Modern Times Magazine. He is the only fictional character and the book is otherwise well researched non-fiction, with real Titanic photos. Through Mr. Vanni's articles, we learn about the building and outfitting of the ship for it's maiden voyage. Through his journal written during the voyage, we learn the subsequent tragic events. He dies, but his journal survives.

I hadn't ever heard about some of the details of the ship's first class accommodations. For instance, there was, for the first class only, a "fully equipped gymnasium."The rich traveling on the Titanic were apparently concerned about staying fit and this sort of adds to the drama, doesn't it? Mr Vanni tells us:

There were two bicycle racing machines that sit side by side so you can race a fellow passenger or yourself . . . connected to a oversized wall-mounted dial what will tell you  your speed and distance . . . There are two horse racing machines (one with an English side saddle for the ladies) that face each other, a rowing machine (which we though rather ironic), clubs, a leather punching bag, an abdomen rubbing machine, height and weight measuring devices--all of which are, of course, overseen by a professional.


They had personal trainers back then. I wonder when and how the horse racing machines and the abdomen rubbing machines grew out of favor with the exercising public. Or perhaps the wealthiest still use them? I wonder.

Interestingly, the White Star Line removed the diving board from the salt water pool because it proved dangerous, as the water in the deep end shifted with the boat movement, making the deep end suddenly shallow and dangerous for diving.

We can imagine what happened to the salt water pool as the ship tipped headfirst into the ocean.

Anyone interested in some interesting facts along with an emotional thrill ride, read this book!



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