Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster” as Want to Read:
Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Everyone from suffragists to their opponents; radicals, reformers, and capitalists; critics of technology and modern life; racists and xenophobes and champions of racial and ethnic equality; editorial writers and folk singers, preachers and poets found moral and cultural lessons in the sinking of the Titanic.


In a new edition that both commemorates the one hundredth anniver
...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 26th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Down with the Old Canoe, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Down with the Old Canoe

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Matt
Jun 17, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: titanic, commentary
Steven Biel’s Down with the Old Canoe is a cultural history of the Titanic disaster. Cultural histories explore the way that a culture interprets an event through various prisms. At a certain level, I find these examinations exceedingly entertaining, if not profoundly enlightening. But at another level, I always have the gnawing sense that cultural histories try to prove too much. I always question: Is this really the cultural interpretation of a historical moment, or the interpretation of a qua ...more
Jessica
Feb 11, 2011 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am one of the flunky, armchair historians who does believe that the sinking did have some interesting parallels to other events in early 20th century history. Biel makes fun of me (and others who think like me) early in the book.

Gag. I love how highbrow Biel tried to be throughout the book. His nose was so far up in the air. And, this is the same guy, who in this very book, explained the deep cultural meaning behind Danielle Steel's "No Greater Love," and the "Rambo" movies. Oh, and "Back to t
...more
Tony Held
Mar 28, 2015 Tony Held rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
From his arrogant introduction to his thinly disguised slamming of historians such as Walter Lord and George Behe, Steven Biel's "Down With The Old Canoe" is but an exercise in scholarly snobbery. The first part of Biel's book contains some interesting nuggets of information about people's reactions to the disaster, but his thinly disguised hint that none of the male passengers escaped from the Titanic as they claimed to have is ridiculous and backed by not so much as a shred of evidence. Biel's ...more
Sean Chick
Jun 11, 2016 Sean Chick rated it really liked it
Few books have been this satisfying and intelligent while also disappointing and predictable. Biel is a critic to his bone; as such the sadness of 1,500 people needlessly dying generates no heartfelt passages. Nor does the discovery of the Titanic elicit any wonder. This is why he so adverse to my favorite book on the disaster and discovery: Pellegrino's flawed but emotionally charged and insightful take. To Biel Pellegrino's sin is he feels the event; Biel goes out of his way to tell us he feel ...more
Jo Butler
Sep 16, 2012 Jo Butler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lest you think, “Just another Titanic retelling,” Down With the Old Canoe is about us. Stephen Biel combs contemporary accounts to show how this “end-of-an-era” disaster has been re-interpreted over the years.

In 1912 Titanic symbolized technological hubris. Anglo-Saxon men were the chivalrous breed: standing aside for their wives and fighting off multi-cultural brutes from steerage who would sink the lifeboats. Suffragettes were warned not to be uppity, because if they were equal to men, they mi
...more
Jack
May 06, 2016 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A neat approach to thinking about the sinking of the Titanic. Previously, my entire knowledge of it comes from an uncle who loved talking about it and, of course, the Cameron movie. This cultural history forced me to put the sinking in different contexts. One of the most important takeaways from this was how the sinking was used by so many different people to push differing views of a changing world. For example, some claimed it was the end of the 19th century and the loss of the chivalrous male ...more
LibraryCin
This book isn't so much about the Titanic itself, as about the effect the sinking of the ship had on culture after the disaster. It looked at such things as gender, class and race; also, songs and poems written about the Titanic; also, the books, tv, and movies that came about (this was published before James Cameron's movie, however).

I wish I would have noticed the subtitle before requesting it from the library (or even before putting it on my tbr... did I? It was too long ago). It just wasn't
...more
Jen
Jan 04, 2012 Jen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I'm mostly skimming this one, but there are some interesting bits. I liked, for example, the sections referencing concurrent notions of "women and children first" and how that part of the disaster was used to emphasize political ideologies regarding sexual roles and mores. Likewise, the bit regarding Ida and Isador Straus, and how her choice to stay with her husband was used by those looking to bolster the sanctity of marriage. I hardly imagine she had any sort of political agenda when she decid ...more
Brian
Dec 11, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look at a different angle of the sinking of the Titanic: Culturally, what was the impact of the sinking? Biel examines many aspects of American and European cultures and how the sinking came to mean different things to different classes of people.
Vanessa
Most interesting how so many different groups laid claim to the Titanic sinking. Really enjoyed the " Mission to Destiny" chapter. Wonder what Biel would interpret the Janes Cameron film versions.
Shawn Thrasher
I like stuff about the Titanic, but this was too scholarly for me. I didn't even make it half way through. Not a bad book, just not for me.
Tariq
Tariq rated it it was amazing
Jan 23, 2015
Kristin LiBretto
Kristin LiBretto rated it it was amazing
Jul 09, 2001
Mark
Mark rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2015
Kyle
Kyle rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2012
Allison
Allison rated it liked it
Jun 24, 2011
Rebekah McGee
Rebekah McGee rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2015
Gay
Gay rated it liked it
Jan 28, 2016
Amy
Amy rated it liked it
Apr 24, 2012
Deaidra Coleman
Deaidra Coleman rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2015
Shelley
Shelley rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2012
Zach Baker
Zach Baker rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2015
Alex Lee Rudy
Alex Lee Rudy rated it really liked it
Mar 13, 2016
Dave
Dave rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2012
Paulo Brandão
Paulo Brandão rated it liked it
May 25, 2014
Aiman Hakim
Aiman Hakim rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2016
Steve
Steve rated it really liked it
May 18, 2008
Sarah
Sarah rated it really liked it
May 10, 2008
Sandra Fulbright-myers
Sandra Fulbright-myers rated it really liked it
May 07, 2015
Jason
Jason rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2008
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Titanic: End of a Dream
  • Unsinkable: The Full Story Of The RMS Titanic
  • The Night Lives On
  • Titanic: Destination Disaster : The Legends and the Reality
  • The Titanic Disaster Hearings: The Official Transcripts of the 1912 Senate Investigation
  • Titanic: A Survivor's Story
  • The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic
  • The Story of the Titanic As Told by Its Survivors
  • Inside the Titanic: A Giant Cutaway Book
  • Titanic, First Accounts
  • Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From
  • Lost Voices From the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History
  • Titanic: Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner
  • Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes From the Great Liner
  • Ghosts Of The Abyss: A Journey Into The Heart Of The Titanic
  • How to Survive the Titanic: or, The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay
  • And the Band Played On: The Titanic Violinist & the Glovemaker: A True Story of Love, Loss & Betrayal
  • Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived Both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters

Share This Book