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Book Review: Ocean Liner books by William H. Miller

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I’ve been fascinated by ocean liners since I was a child, which I blame on my grandmother. She had books on her shelf about famous disasters like the Andrea Doria and of course Titanic which I would pour over every chance I got. I have a deep fear of being trapped underwater so I’m not sure what on Earth draws me to these floating behemoths but I’ve always found them dazzling.

Several months back I got on to a kick of watching documentaries from the great age of ocean liners and decided to find a couple of books to add to my mental stash of useless facts. My go to source for random books is the site Thrift Books which is exactly as it seems… a thrift store for books. You can often find a lot of out of print books which include these editions. Here’s the thing about books on historical subjects that are out of date… they are often wrong or include wrong information and these books are no different. These were written by the same gentleman and came out before many of these shipwrecks were found, including Titanic, so they were written under previously understood information. So why read an incorrect book?

I think the mistakes in understanding provide just as much to the historical narrative as the now discovered facts. The Titanic’s ultimate Achilles heel and the breaking up weren’t truly known until she was found in 1986 which tells us A LOT about that night. I love that we can glean details from different moments in history and while out of date, these books provide a fascinating insight into the ships themselves, and the understanding of how much we’ve progressed since. They are also a great reminder that you should never take information as fact at face value… context always matters.


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