Monday, May 16, 2016

Quick Review: "The Midnight Watch" by David Dyer

From Goodreads:  As the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on. Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the chartroom below, but Lord did not come to the bridge. Eight rockets were fired during the dark hours of the midnight watch, and eight rockets were ignored. The next morning, the Titanic was at the bottom of the sea and more than 1,500 people were dead. When they learned of the extent of the tragedy, Lord and Stone did everything they could to hide their role in the disaster, but pursued by newspapermen, lawyers, and political leaders in America and England, their terrible secret was eventually revealed. The Midnight Watch is a fictional telling of what may have occurred that night on the SS Californian, and the resulting desperation of Officer Stone and Captain Lord in the aftermath of their inaction.

My Thoughts:  I've been really into Titanic related books this year but this one was completely different than I have read so far.  I actually had never heard of the judicial inquiry into the acts of the Californian on the night that the Titanic sank so this book gave me a whole new view of the Titanic disaster.

I will say that this story was a sad one but it was also poignant.  I admired Officer Stone's loyalty to his captain even if it meant lying about the events of April 14.  He seemed so lost and like someone who never could decide on the correct path to take.  I also really enjoyed the character of Steadman.  He was such a sleazy journalist but at the same time, he was a devoted father and he really did care about telling the victims' side of the story.  His 'story within the story' about a family in third class on the Titanic was heartbreaking but also beautiful.  It definitely made you think, 'if only the Californian had done something'.

I loved that the author included actual text from the British and American hearing transcripts.  This was very clearly a well-researched work and I really appreciated the extensive author's note at the end of the book.  I think this is one of my new favorite Titanic books and I would highly recommend it to anyone interest in the story of the Titanic.  4 stars.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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