Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, but in terms of loss of life that catastrophe doesn't even figure as one of the 50 worst maritime disasters of the last three hundred years. The causes of disaster are legion: besides icebergs and enemy torpedoes, ships have been sunk by fire, explosions, flooding, capsizing, storms, collisions and human error.
Ships featured include: Wilhelm Gustloff - how history forgot the 10,000 killed. Lancastria - why Britain's worst disaster was covered up. Mont Blanc - the ship that destroyed a city. Sultana - triumph and tragedy on the Mississippi. Dona Paz - the deadliest disaster in living memory.
With disasters from all over the world, these are stories of the people - whether they lived or died - as well as the ships. They are stories of tragedy, war, heroism and cowardice, greed and sacrifice. Only for the lucky few were they also stories of rescue and survival.
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A Captivating Listen
Like a masterful storyteller at a dinner party the author recounts the intriguing details of each disaster without getting bogged down providing an exhaustive litany of names, dates, and non-pertinent historical asides. This book is very captivating a casual listener like myself.
One particularly startling story in the book is that of the collision in the Halifax Harbor of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French vessel carrying a dangerous cargo of explosives and the Norwegian SS Imo. This accident resulted in the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons.