The Band That Played on: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic (Hardback)
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Description"They kept it up to the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence. The band was playing 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.' I could hear it distinctly. The end was very close." --CHARLOTTE COLLYER, TITANIC SURVIVOR The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the "unsinkable" "Titanic," her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has "that glorious band"--the group of eight musicians who played on as the "Titanic" slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean--been explored in such depth. Steve Turner's extensive research reveals a fascinating story including dishonest agents, a clairvoyant, social climbers, and a fraudulent violin maker. Read what brought the band members together and how their music served as the haunting soundtrack for one of modern history's most tragic maritime disasters. BOOK REVIEWS "The Band that Played On" by Steve Turner is, surprisingly, the first book since the great ship went down to examine the lives of the eight musicians who were employed by the Titanic. What these men did?standing calmly on deck playing throughout the disaster?achieved global recognition. But their individual stories, until now, have been largely unknown. What Turner has uncovered is a narrow but unique slice of history?one more chapter of compelling Titanic lore. Turner, a music journalist, pursued living relatives of the band members and squeezed all that he could out of "inherited photographs, documents, and anecdotes" enabling him to sketch brief but poignant portraits of eight young (or at least youngish) men, all born in an optimistic era and all members of the rising middle class. To their parents, their girlfriends, and surely to themselves as well, the future must have seemed bright right up until the early morning hours of April 15, 1912... There is much that we do not know about the final hours of these men. Why did they make the decision to play on the deck that night? What was in their hearts and minds? ... Even the Titanic survivors who witnessed their final performance quibbled over some details. Did the band march or did they kneel? Was their last number "Autumn" or was it "Nearer, My God, to Thee"? Did they stop playing during the final moments and pack their instruments away or were they still playing as the ship went down? All agreed, however, that all eight band members behaved with remarkable calm and courage. Within hours of the ship's sinking, their story was circulating and they had already become heroes... For Turner, however, the undisputed hero of the book is Wallace Hartley, a fine musician with religious conviction and a powerful sense of duty who seems most likely to have been the force behind those final hours of heroism. In the last pages of the book, Turner reveals a surprising Hartley discovery?a turn of events which makes a fine ending for his worthy book, even as it leaves us hopeful that the Titanic may yet have a few mysteries she is willing to give up. "--Marjorie Kehe, Book Editor, Christian Science Monitor" This detailed and sympathetic portrait of the bandsmen will be appreciated by Titanic enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Steve Turner's new book admirably fills a gap in Titanic literature. There are few good books on the subject of Titanic and, until now, none on the band itself. Steve's impressive depth of research has allowed him to vividly flesh out the stories of each of the band members and he has set these narratives in a fascinating social, political, cultural and religious context. I only wish Steve's book had been around when I was researching Wallace Hartley for my role in James Cameron's movie! "--Jonathan Evans-Jones, who played band leader Wallace Hartley in the film Titanic."
- Published: 28 March 2011
- Format: Hardback 272 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781595552198 ISBN 10: 1595552197
- Sales rank: 194,264
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Reviews for The Band That Played on
The Titanic story from a different point of view
I must admit that I had a hard time getting into this book, and then finishing it. I found this book neither an absolute waste of time nor a fascinating story.
Whenever I heard of the Titanic, I used to think of the reasons, why these men would play until the end, how could they be so calm about what's coming and so on. The author obviously made the best he could to gather the information about the members of the band and to give us an insight into what could have led these men to make such a decision.
I found a few interesting facts about the Titanic in the book, the photos of various documents were well fitting with the story and made it more interesting, though there were also guesses and unverified assumptions.
I am quite sure that people who are highly interested in the Titanic story will find this book entertaining and useful; and maybe people who are generally interested in biographies and history, too. by xlacrimax
A investigative book on the extraordinary story of the 8 musicians
The Band that Played On is about the extraordinary story of the 8 musicians who went down with the Titanic. Note, its not about the story of the 8 extraordinary musicians, but the extraordinary story of the 8 musicians. You see, the 8 musicians were talented but in many ways, they are also ordinary people like you and me. Their courage in the face of death, to surrender to God by playing the hymn, "Nearer my God to thee" for the passengers of Titanic is testament of stoicism, charity and self-sacrifice in average people.
The book is an excellent product of the author's expertise in journalism and music. He does not take stories at its face value, and investigates into the truth of the story that the musicians indeed played the hymn as the "unsinkable" ship sank. He also gives an elaborate account of the lives of the 8 musicians.
The book was initially quite dreary and I was speed reading through the first few chapters. But the later chapters crystalizing the author's thesis that we can be courageous in the face of death nearly made me tear in the train! Of course, having done a moot about a shipwreck similar to the Titanic, the law nerd in me also enjoyed the chapter on the legal dispute between the dishonest agents and the families of the musicians. by Eunice Lim
A good holiday popular history read
Anyone who has seen films or read books about the Titanic will recall the ship's band which played as it sank. In this book Steve Turner focuses on these eight musicians. He explores the various claims regarding what they played, and in particular, what their last tune was and looks at the various stories that circulated regarding the band following the tragedy.
Turner makes it clear from the outset that this book doesn't seek to explore issues of why and how the ship sank, but rather, takes a much closer look at the lives of the musicians: what brought them to this ship; what their roles were; who they left behind, and various other interesting questions. The result is a very personal slice of history which tells a lot about the culture of the day. There are obvious points of intersection with the larger issues of the Titanic sinking, but essentially the book sticks to the stories of these eight men.
Turner has done a lot of research and does a good job of making it readable and approachable to a popular audience. Where the trail of documentation ends he sometimes gives speculation, and where there is contention he gives his opinion, and for what reason. At the end of the book he touches on the alleged 'Wallace Hartley Violin', but points out that due to its impending auction and resultant sworn-secrecy of all those involved, he was unable to garner any real information or corroboration. It is a slight anti-climax, though perhaps looks forward to a second volume in due course.
I found the initial biographical backgrounds to be a little dry, but worth persevering through, as the information paved the way for exploring the men's actions and characters, and the aftermath event, which is much more engaging.
It is quite a fast read, and one which I enjoyed. I don't think one need be a musician to appreciate this book. Anyone with an interest in the Titanic, sea-faring history or Georgian society in general ought to find it quite stimulating. A good holiday read (cruises excluded!).
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. by Andrew Finden