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

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  9 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)
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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
Jo Butler
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
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.
Apr 03, 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
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.
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.
A truly engrossing culutral history. Biel is one of my favourite historians.
Ugh - 1/2 way thru & decided to stop wasting my time.
Deadly, deadly dull- beware!
Scarlett O.H.
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