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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Band That Played On by Steve Turner

Wallace Hartley, Roger Bricoux, William "Theo" Brailey, John Law Hume, John Wesley Woodward, Georges Krins, John Frederick Preston Clarke, Percy Cornelius Taylor.  Names you're probably not familiar with.  While their names may not necessarily ring a bell, it is most likely that you have heard tale of them.  It was those eight, heroic gentlemen who bravely continued to perform on deck as the ship that was supposed to be unsinkable sank into the icy Atlantic Ocean.  The Band That Played On is a comprehensive look into the lives of these men. Where they came from, how they became skilled musicians and eventually ended up aboard The U.S.S. Titanic for it's ill-fated first voyage.  There have been many, many books written about the sinking of the magnificent ship, but this is the first book to really delve into who the musicians were that were individually selected for the gig.  Steve Turner spends time on each of the guys, giving background on their family life, their schooling and previous employment.  

I found the stories of these talented men very interesting, often intriguing and amazing.  This book is teeming with details of the lives of these guys.  So much so that at times I became a bit overwhelmed with addresses and locations.  A true history buff, or perhaps someone better at geography than I, might appreciate those minute details, but for me it was a little much and bogged down the good parts of the stories.  Because none of the musicians survived the sinking, there was a bit of assumption imposed in what happened aboard the ship, but Turner writes with believable educated guesses based on facts and evidence.  A few things I found extremely interesting were that two of the men had previously been on board a ship that crashed into another just a few months prior to the Titanic disaster.  Another had a father who professed to be clairvoyant and begged his son not to get on the ship because something dreadful was going to happen.  He didn't listen.  

There is much history and mystery surrounding the Titanic, and while Turner doesn't go into all of it, but rather stays focused on the musicians, this books makes a great compliment to other resources out there on the subject.  It is inspiring to hear how brave and selfless those men were (they could have jumped aboard life boats and tried to save themselves, but they didn't).  And extremely intriguing to find out how their lives intertwined and brought them to be part of such a major historical tragedy.  Turner does a great job of being a comprehensive resource for those eight musicians who will forever be remembered - and who's stories are finally written on paper!

I review for BookSneeze
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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