106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2000
Dear Amazon.com Readers,
With a passenger list in the back, detailing those who survived and those who didn't, "A Night to Remember," is a harrowing account of the Titanic's ill-fated journey from Europe to the United States.
The book really tells of the people who spent fortunes to get aboard the Titanic, the most luxurious cruiseliner of the time. I really don't think that this book can be compared to the movie "Titanic." They are both such different stories, that saying one is like the other is missing the point.
"A Night to Remember is much more than Hollywook hype. It is really more of a personal account of what happened aboard the ship, and the horrors of the sinking and of the rescues (most people died, only a few survived). I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the saga of the Titanic. This book is based solidly on fact, which is one reason I like it so much. I remember reading this several years ago, and being kept up at night as a result.
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2000
I must be the only person who read this book years before the movie came out. As a child, this was one of my very favorite books that I have since reread many times. Lord captures everything: the social mores, the lavish banquets, the characters (the captain!), the conditions on the rest of the ship, and the tragedy of it all. The movie leaves nothing to the imagination, but this account is truly superb. If you never got a chance to read it, don't delay. You'll learn almost everything about the tragedy from a master story teller. The scenes right before they strike the iceburg are incredible, as are every scene of the evacuation. Finally, it's clear why no one wanted to leave the security of the ship. The worst tragedy of all was that many of the lifeboats were lowered with hardly anyone on them because they were afraid to leave the ship. Many more lives could have been saved.
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
I first read Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" in the summer of 1968 as part of my required reading list for freshman year of high school. I was so fascinated by the account that I read it at least three times that summer and early fall. It brought to chilling life one of the greatest maritime disasters in history. As I read the dog-eared, yellowing, crinkled-paper copy of the paperback (its purchase price was sixty-cents back then) once again last year as a "mature" 42 year old, Mr. Lord's brilliant account of the tragedy still held my attention. His vivid, detailed, yet smooth flowing narrative brought back the excitement as felt as a young teenager, in a way that few books have. I recently viewed the movie "Titanic" with my fourteen year old daughter. The movie was thoroughly enjoyable, but there were some aspects of the book (such as the spectre of a rescue ship only a few precious miles away)that could have added to the drama. The book is worth reading both as literature as well as history.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2004
No matter how many times you revisit it, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, the granddaddy of all Titanic books, remains as fresh a read today as it did fifty years ago. Walter Lord is still universally regarded as "the man who knows everything about the Titanic" and this fast-paced, detail-laden, and dramatically visualized book is the reason why and the product of that reason.
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER transports you to the decks of the Titanic that cold April night so convincingly that you are left with an eerie chill-between-your-shoulder blades feeling as the great ship goes down.
You share the early complacency of the passengers on the 'unsinkable' ship. Your sense of impending doom grows as the bows disappear below the glassy Atlantic. You grit your teeth at the obtuseness of the crew of the Californian---why, oh why, didn't they question those white rockets?---and you share in the breathless trauma of those on shore as the story unfolds.
Sure, since the discovery of the wreck many questions have been answered (and a few more posed). Some of Lord's information is dated (the ship did in fact break in half, for example). There have been other 'Titanic' books, and they explore almost every aspect of the disaster in meticulous detail; even Lord's follow-up The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories & Secrets Behind the Sinking of the Unsinkable Ship-Titanic falls into this category. But no one has ever told the story of the RMS Titanic any better, and it's likely they never will.
74 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2005
This is a classic book on the sinking of the Titanic and the first book I ever read on the subject. It should be understood before reading this book that our collective understanding of the Titanic disaster has moved on since the time A Night to Remember was first published in 1956. For example upon discovering the wreck of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic in 1985 it was clear that the Titanic had indeed broken in half and rested upon the sea bed in two halves. As anybody who has seen the 1958 film "A Night To Remember" will realise this book presents the ship as sinking whole, which was not the case. But this is not to say that this book does not have a lot of outstanding information to impart to the interested reader. The book considers the Titanic from the time in 1907 when she was conceived, the building of the Titanic, the maiden voyage and the sinking and finally the subsequent investigations and recriminations. Particularly thought provoking is the full listing of the passengers at the back of the book including those who survived along with those who perished. What I found particularly shocking was the listing of Third Class Passengers, with its very low numbers of survivors. Walter Lord's book is very easy to read, though the subject matter is somewhat more difficult to digest, due to the overwhelming nature of the Titanic tragedy.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Walter Lord is one of the best historical authors of the 20th Century. His storytelling talent shows through in his classic account of the sinking of the Titanic. The book's only flaw is its brevity. The narrative portion is only 135 pages in small paperback form and starts just as the ship is about to hit the iceberg. There is no background story to give the reader perspective of the ship's construction or of the passengers whose stories it follows. Also lacking is much detail about the aftermath of the sinking. The actual sinking is retold in riveting first person accounts that detail those fatal final moments and all of their tragedies and ironies. In fact, Lord's account was good enough to make me want to seek out a more complete history of the disaster.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2000
If James Cameron's film Titanic made you feel you were there by watching it, (and I'm sure plenty of people feel that way but don't want to admit it since it's unfashionable right now), Walter Lord's book makes you feel the same way by reading about it. Minute by minute, detail by detail, with survivior accounts making it all the more real, we hear the story, the familiar details and plenty of ones we never heard before. Gripping with every turn of the page, your pulse races as you ache to find out what will happen next, though in the back of your head you already know. Walter Lord is a great historian and a great storyteller, and these skills are what make this book invaluable to any Titanic buff or anyone who likes a good story, or just anyone in general.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2012
James Cameron and I are the same age, and I first read ANTR when I was nine. It blew me down, especially the part where Major Peuchen rappelled down the side. (The Rank Movie should have used an actor that was not an English idea of a Yankee. He was as Canadian as James Cameron and me. I saw him, spot on, in Boat Six with Mrs. Brown. Jim. Why did you not show his descent? Better than Jack and Rose endless running.)
But read this book. It was written in the 1950's, before the discovery of the ship's remains; but Mr. Lord corresponded with almost all survivors living at the time, and had all the survivor accounts published in books to that time. He wrote what was known, or said was known. It comes from them, and it is a masterly job of putting it all into a chronological account.
It is the BEST "You Are There" narrative about the tragic night.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I cannot believe it's taken the impending 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to compel me to finally delve into Walter Lord's 1955 recounting of the great ship's final hours, A Night to Remember. As detailed in the foreward to the fiftieth anniversary reissue, Lord possessed a lifelong, enduring fascination with the doomed Titanic, perhaps born out of a childhood trip on her sistership Olympia. Irregardless of the origin, Lord's passion for the subject shines in this slim volume's tightly-plotted recreation of the ship's final hours and the sinking's aftermath. Lord was in the unique and enviable position of being able to interview over sixty survivors of the sinking for his book, which he then incorporated into a blow-by-blow recreation of every moment -- from the collision with the iceberg to the Carpathia's rescue of less than a third of the Titanic's total passenger list. Lord's brisk, documentary style makes you feel as if you're watching a film of events unfold, lending the gradually dawning realization of the enormity of the danger facing the ship a depth and intensity that makes this an absolute page-turner.
As Lord comments in his acknowledgements, A Night to Remember "is really about the last night of a small town" -- and by extension the beginning of the end for an entire way of life. I confess that while I've always been susceptible to the "Titanic mystique" I never really thought about the socio-economic repercussions of the tragedy. From the massively wealthy movers & shakers (i.e. John Jacob Astor IV) to the poorest immigrants in Third Class, Lord lays out a convincing argument that the Titanic was the "last stand of wealth and society in the center of public affection" -- to wit, the loss of that class's exclusivity on privilege and relative immunity to bad press. A whole way of life, the close-knit culture of the First Class passengers, an air of civility and chivalry, all of that vanished on that icy night in April, rocking the world to its core and paving the way for the unsettled political and socially charged atmosphere of the 20th century.
This is an even-handed, balanced presentation of the events of April 14, 1912 and its aftermath. Lord manages to present what I feel is a relatively unvarnished view of events, but tells them in such a compelling manner that one never loses sight of the horror and human toll of that fateful day. A Night to Remember is not only an extraordinary document of the ship and her time, but of the best and worst that mankind is capable of, and of the dangers of letting the legend eclipse the great human toll of that night, and of what we can perhaps learn today from the ordinary men and women on that voyage who found themselves called to do extraordinary things.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2001
Publishing for the first time in 1955, Walter Lord's novel remains unsurpassed in accuracy and excitement. To fulfill his purpose, Lord interviewed the few Titanic survivors in effort to create the most precise and vivid picture of what happened out in the Atlantic on that moonlit night in 1912. This book allows readers to step on board the luxury liner with an explosion of the emotions the passengers felt that night they knew there was no where to go but into the freezing icy water of the ocean. Devoid of Hollywood glamour, Lord tells exactly what happened when it happened as told by those who were actually there. With chapters brilliantly titled with heart-wrenching words of the passengers, Lord is able to describe in complete detail the events as they occurred minute-by-minute from the point of view of different passengers. Some passengers stayed in bed despite the jolt of the iceberg, some continued to drink and smoke in the lounges, and some went up on deck to investigate while others played a game of soccer with chunks of ice. By his exceptional use of lead-ins and transitions, Lord's novel flows in a remarkable manner. Descriptions are depicted in such intense detail that any reader can taste the gourmet meals of the first class, see the excessively adorned quarters, hear the chilling silence, and feel the pain of the frigid water.