cover image Sinkable: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic

Sinkable: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic

Daniel Stone. Dutton, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-32937-5

Journalist Stone (The Food Explorer) examines in this incisive and entertaining history how the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 has captured the public’s imagination. Though Stone dives deep into technical matters, including how icebergs form, the “downblast effect” that occurs when a sinking ship pulls a column of water behind it, the limitations of sonar technology, and the survival rates of men, women, and children in maritime disasters, the book’s most intriguing sections spotlight obsessives who have devoted their lives to the subject. Massachusetts jeweler Edward Kamuda formed the first Titanic fan club in 1960, convincing 75 of the ship’s 87 living survivors to join. Oklahoma oilman Jack Grimm spent most of the 1970s and much of his fortune in an ill-fated attempt to find the wreck, while Doug Woolley, a former pantyhose factory worker whose great-aunts allegedly had tickets to sail on the Titanic but backed out when they “had the same dream about disaster striking the ship,” has claimed ownership of what’s left of the passenger liner since the 1960s. Colorful personalities, astute cultural analysis, and fascinating details about the science of shipwrecks and the mechanics of salvage operations make this a must-read for Titanic buffs. (Aug.)