On the 100th anniversary of the "Titanic"'s sinking, a prominent "Titanic" researcher offers a final chance to see the ship before it disappears foreverThe "Titanic" was the biggest, most luxurious passenger ship the world had ever seen; the ads proclaimed it to be unsinkable. When it sank in April 1912 after hitting an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people, the world was forever changed and the public has been spellbound ever since. Now, a century later, the "Titanic" is about to disappear again: its infrastructure is set to collapse in the next few years. In this book, scientist Charles Pellegrino offers what may be the last opportunity to see the ship before it is lost to the seas for eternity. The last book to be written while survivors were still alive and able to contribute details, "Farewell, Titanic" includes many untold stories about the sinking and exploration of the unsinkable ship.Author Charles Pellegrino provided source material for James Cameron's Oscar-winning "Titanic" film, which is being re-released in 3D at the same time as the bookIncludes 16 pages of never-before-published full-color photographs of the sunken vesselIncludes all-new information about the "Titanic" research that has been carried out in the last decadeWritten by a "New York Times" bestselling author who participated in the post-discovery analysis of the "Titanic"'s remains during the expedition that immediately followed Robert Ballard's "Titanic" discovery in 1985
Charles Pellegrino is a scientist working in paleobiology, astronomy, and various other areas; a designer for projects including rockets and nuclear devices (non-military propulsion systems), composite construction materials, and magnetically levitated transportation systems; and a writer. He has been affiliated with Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand National Observatory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, NY; taught at institutions including Hofstra University and Adelphi University Center for Creative Arts; a member of Princeton Space Studies Institute. Cradle of Aviation Museum, space flight consultant; Challenger Center, founding member. After sailing with Robert Ballard to the Galapagos Rift in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the Titanic (in 1985), Pellegrino expanded from the field of paleontology “into the shallows of archaeological time.”
Nothing that teaches us about history is irrelevant. Nothing is irrelevant that instructs us regarding hubris. Posterity, when heeded, can illuminate far more than just the past—its brilliance can cast a meaningful glow into our future. Farewell, Titanic - Her Final Legacy should not be taken as just another book about a tragic ship or her history—author Charles Pellegrino has provided a wider scope of history, a template of humanity held against the context of Titanic's story.
Perhaps the most immediate question for the potential reader is: "Does it tell the story of the sinking?" The easy answer is "It does indeed." But so do countless other books on the subject, not the least of which is Walter Lord's A Night To Remember, which the author used as source material—including personal correspondence with Lord. Lord's fascination with the Titanic began at a very early age which gave him the time to accrue a depth of knowledge regarding the event (her sinking) which few others could come close to except her survivors; Pellegrino does both Walter Lord and Titanic's human descendants a deft, factually thorough, and humanistic service in Farewell, Titanic.
Pellegrino's approach is perhaps the most gripping in its narrative style. Outside of global war the Titanic story is one of history's greatest cautionary tales of man's arrogance and tragic greed. Having the chutzpah to sail not just into but through an ice field is (cetainly, in hindsight) hair-raisingly stupid—but to do so, on a moonless night in calm waters and run the engines "full ahead" based on human claims of "unsinkable" construction is barely a stones throw from qualifying as murderous. Farewell, Titanic is not a story told from the periphery, from solely a journalistic perspective or a 'top down' view, rather it is told from the 'bottom up', that is, from individual accounts and outwards. The accounts make for fascinating consumption but the sense of tragedy is crystalline—there is no distinct sense of removal from the unfolding horrors, from the first call from the crows nest to the life-long burden bore by some of her survivors.
This is not a book of generalities or reconstructions based on nebulous recollections or skewed newspaper reports. The author has been down to Titanic and experienced her firsthand. Pellegrino's observations and analysis as part of James Cameron's crew resulted in the director using some of his source material for the Oscar-winning film Titanic. Not only is the historic event recounted from people who were there but it is also a captivating record of what happened to the ship itself, as it broke up, sank, hit bottom, and rested 2.5 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic ocean.
Again, that would be the expected birds-eye-view of the event. Herein, however, one gets a wonderfully accessible scientific account of the forces at play in this drama. One of Pellegrino's gifts is in his ability to convert such empirical properties into passages of uncomfortable understanding—"uncomfortable" only in the sense that one can truly grasp the chilling fear of a given moment as if you were present and watching it happen, such as in this passage:
"By the time Hendrickson reached the spiral stairs the sea appeard to be erupting through a geyser somewhere on the starboard side. Overhead, Hendrickson saw the tarpaulin beneath the number 1 cargo hatch ballooning upward like a huge dome. The surge of air pressure—which measured the pulse of water rushing in from below—whistled through the firemen's quarters with ear popping force."
Imagine what it must have been like to be close to the area where her hull struck the iceberg. Several accounts of this very instance are described by the folks who experienced it, and not just near the bow—you get a feel for how the collision was experienced from bow to stern, from first class to third class, from crew cabins down to boiler rooms, and certainly the terror experienced from the bridge down as more and more of the crew began to understand the truth of the situation as it unfolded.
Compartamentalization, the builder's claim of man's victory over nature, likely would have prevented the ship's loss if not for metal weakened by excessive heat during an earlier boiler room fire; portholes left open to provide cabin cooling in the aftermath of the fire contributed to the speed of Titanic's sinking; the number of lifeboats available were not a direct result of designer intent, rather the number were reduced by money men trying to maximize deck space, again, based on the hubristic assumption that the ship could withstand anything.
Long held untruths are clarified, as in the case of the common belief that every lifeboat was launched only half full. Initially this was the case, as Pellegrino explains, but only because the officer loading the crafts had prior experience with boats of inferior quality and was highly concerned that loading Titanic's boats to capacity may cause them to literally disintegrate upon hitting water; her lifeboats had not been tested prior to her launch.
Titanic's legacy isn't solely vested in the ghoulish allure of Victorian technology gone awry. Formerly undiscovered sea life has been found seeking refuge in her remains, not the least of which is the now familiar image of what the casual viewer would say looks like an underwater, rust-colored icicle—appropriately enough they are called "rusticles." This life form is slowly dissolving away the available iron at the site. Other life in the depths have actually protected letters and photographs. The ship has, like Vesuvius, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the World Trade Center collapses brought new insights to our understanding of "down blast" effects and shock cocoons. In some places contents of the great ocean liner are fully intact while the stern section has been flattened like a pancake, her hull rippled outward like taffy. Pellegrino explores these forces, too, with parallels drawn between each one, often interconnnected by the fragile thread of human life.
Therein lies a key facet of what he has set out to accomplish with Farewell, Titanic. Without properly seeing the larger picture one could attempt to cast aspersions upon the writers' odd sense of structure and adherence to the subject matter. Truth is, the subject matter, all along, is us—certainly us from a historical perspective, or us from the posture of failing to fully attend to our own better angels. Either way, this is not simply a story about iron against ice, nor one of science versus nature. Farewell, Titanic rides a timeline of human frailty from 1912 to present day. To argue that the subject or context does not stay lashed to the narrative only serves to boldly emphasize the entire point—that life isn't neat and tidy. Beyond our best intentions lie considerations we perhaps are neither capable nor ready to see. Life can be harsh and cruel . . . man can be utterly idiotic even while striving to beat nature at is own game—or man can be barbaric in nature's name. Man, science, and the panoply of physics are all put under the proverbial microscope here; the connections between man's nature and any event, large or small, are not always immediate to one another, but as Pellegrino makes clear Time always gets the final word, and eventually Time connects the dots.
Sixteen pages of photos provide a visual glimpse of what the author describes thoughout the book. And visuals, or the lack of them, are the book's sole Achilles heel. I had very much hoped (frankly even expected) a diagram of Titanic to aid in my understanding of the various events as they are so vividly described—as a land lubber I have precious little sea-going experience, much less any functional knowledge or experience on a cruise ship, One can easily find such diagrams online, but that presumes that one has quick access to the internet when reading. It would seem logical to have such an illustration near the beginning of the book. Alas, the only illustrations, while compelling indeed, are of the ship's resting place on the sea floor. It should be understood that considerations of such things are often well outside the authors control. Given the strict attention to detail throughout I can hardly conceive that Pellegrino didn't include more illustrations for print. In his two prior books on this same subject, Her Name, Titanic and Ghosts of the Titanic there are multiple such images, although each book is from a different publisher, so some form of economizing should not be ruled out in the case of Farewell, Titanic.
Titanic presents a wealth of relevance to us today. Her shell slowly decays in the "ever-black" yet her very presence, after 100 years, still reveals secrets of time and lives lost, still illuminates stories of the human condition, both worthy and shameful. Farewell, Titanic indeed preserves her legacy and brings to light startling new details and tells a century-old story with the fierce vigor and endless curiosity only mankind could display. Pellegrino has allowed us not just a glimpse but a full-fledged tour of his fascination with the ship; at once haunting and enthralling, yet remarkably poignant in its undercurrent of humanity.
A wonderful but occasionally frustrating read. Pellegrino alternates between the sinking and the expedition that was over the wreck during the September 11 attacks. He was there. It is no disrespect to his experience that I was unconvinced there was a connection between the two events other than the obvious loss of life. On the other hand, his descriptions of the 2001 disaster were compelling.
Pellegrino is a scientist, and a writer. He makes the transformation of the ship into one large organism absolutely lucid, even beautiful, and while he does not believe in God, he is nevertheless overcome by awe through his ongoing experiences with Titanic. Instead of first class passengers who normally get the lions' share of attention, Pellegrino focuses upon the crew and steerage. He uncovers numerous acts of heroism by members of both groups. I consider myself to be knowledgeable about the sinking, but had never realized how many of those who survived owed their lives to Murdoch, normally a vilified figure. His suicide, which Pellegrino accepts, appears to have been a statement of courage. He would not be accused of taking a seat that might have gone to a passenger of any class. Lightoller, on the other hand, comes across as the man responsible for the deaths of many who might have been saved. He persisted in lowering half-filled lifeboats rather than allow husbands to accompany wives. It is even more horrifying to learn how many children (boys) he prevented from getting into the boats with their mothers, including one as young as 12. Entire families died together rather than be separated.
Pellegrino has emotional reactions to the wreckage each time he dives to it. The stern, virtually a chaotic heap of steel as the result of its impact with the sea bottom, particularly evokes the Titanic dead, for it was here that most of those left aboard when the lifeboats cast away fled. They actually appear to find human bones. All remnants are treated with respect by the expedition.
More than enough here to satisfy the pickiest Titanic fanatic, but I also recommend it as a general interest read.
An essential facet of this immortal story. "Farewell, Titanic" - the third and final book in Charles Pellegrino's Titanic trilogy proves to be a captivating tribute to honor the centennial of the legendary lost liner's sinking. Offering a unique personal account, this book covers his involvement with the James Cameron era of Titanic exploration, the most spellbinding, methodical and enlightening series of expeditions to probe deeper into the remains of the fabled vessel than ever. The author's greatest gift continues to be his command of time, which reads more like a setting rather than a distance between the catastrophic loss of the "Unsinkable" ship and the modern bio-archaeologists (like himself) bringing dimension and clarity to a story that continues to resonate through the ages a century later.
This is, beyond a shadow of a doubt my favorite book on the subject, Pellegrino weaves in all his experience as an archaeologist, collaborating historian with the master of Titanic history, the late Walter Lord, and as a 9/11 family member who surfaced from the ruins of the Titanic into the post-9/11 world (in "Ghosts of the Abyss"), to deliver a compelling account that races forward and back in time, from the rarely discussed events and passengers of Titanic's voyage to the features of her wreck that continue to stand as a testimony to their memory on the ocean floor. The forensics, active retelling of history and the sheer emotion conveyed in exploring the grand scale human drama that Titanic ultimately represents proved to make this an unprecedented account that dives deep to consider who we are as people. What I appreciated most about the book were the glimpses of experiencing an oceanographic expedition to the wreck, and information about it in general, coupling science with history and drawing conclusions from the Titanic's skeleton - with Pellegrino reminding us that those clues resolve an image of a tragedy that we should never forget.
As usual, Pellegrino's insights are valuable. In this book he answers some of his persistant critics by carefully footnoting his sources. A few minor irritants: a diagram of the ship to show the gradual flooding and location of structural failures would have been useful, there is at least one typo of the parenthentical comment attached to the wrong line variety, and Pellegrino needs to have someone proofread him to eliminate bonehead errors like referring to the "Countess Rothe" instead of the "Countess Rothes."
Pellegrino, one of the scientists who worked diving on deep sea wrecks and structures, weaves together tales of exploring the wreck (with robots), the scientific findings they're making, and some of the lesser-known stories of passengers and crew on the TITANIC in its last hours.
The writing in the book is solid, and the research is top-notch. Some of the stories Pellegrino pieces together and/or lifts from previous histories and court testimony and interviews haven't appeared in other books I've read on the subject.
**On portholes and doors** This is the first TITANIC book I've read that spends much time on the math of open portholes and their effect on the sinking time for the ship. In particular, because the rooms in the bow were very hot (partly because of the fire in the coal chute), many passengers had their windows open while they slept before the collision. As those portholes sunk below the water line, they became additional holes in the hull.
Even more significant to the sinking equation, it appears as if Charles Lightoller sent a crew down to open one of the doors in the side of the ship so people could be lowered from there down to lifeboats. The logic for this had to do with his doubts about the lifeboats' sturdiness. It failed in two ways -- first, no one was loaded onto lifeboats that way because it seems like the lifeboats just rowed away after they reached the water and second, the door probably started taking in water quite quickly (and thus became an even bigger liability on the sinking side of the ledger.
**On racism and classism aboard TITANIC** Another oft-neglected topic has to do with the way racism and classism played out during the sinking. While I've read a few times about the stories of gates being locked against steerage passengers, Pellegrino's is the first book I've read that documents it very clearly. He also documents how racism played a role in who got to be on the lifeboats and, in one case, almost meant the crew left a man to freeze in the water when they came back to rescue people. Horrifying but not all that surprising, I'm sad to admit.
**On the decay of the ship** As a scientist diving on the wreck, Pellegrino is particularly well-suited to explain the developments in engineering and biology at play in the exploration of the wreck. The "rusticles" in particular represent a new kind of biological formation they hadn't seen before.
I was also really interested to read about "shock cocoons," spaces that survived mostly intact even as the spaces all around them were obliviated by the water coursing through the ship and the wreck crashing into the floor. Some spaces in the ship survive in shockingly good condition, and the anoxic atmosphere means in some places the wood fittings are also preserved. (Not unlike the sunken Endurance found recently.)
**On 9/11** One of the unexpected pieces of the book were Pellegrino's meditations on life and work through the lens of his experience in the aftermath of 9/11. Being a New Yorker, he had very personal encounters with the tragedy, and there are several avenues, both experiential and scientific, through which those events became part of this book.
That said, the last third of the book has a bit more of this kind of thing than I was looking for. My reduced interest in this section might be because I'm reading his TITANIC books out of order, so I have less personal investment in the memoir aspects of the book.
** Wrap up** All told, FAREWELL, TITANIC is a strong entry in both the science of the sinking and the historiography of the people on board. Worth a look!
Quote: The rotation must have continued for approximately one second-long enough to break the stern's back and to split the deck plates-straight across the well deck, just behind the anchor cranes. the clockwise rotation continued about 20 degrees before the down blast struck, with all the force of a tsunami striking a skyscraper at almost ninety feet per second (sixty miles per hour).
Quote: The Titanic would have needed to cross the Atlantic for more than a century and perhaps for as long as a thousand years before the lining up of so many low probability events became a mathematical inevitability. What the ship's builders and officers did not understand was that the odds of drawing two royal flushes in a row are the same in any two hands in the next two million. The maiden voyage was a lesson in risk assessment, demonstrating the frailty of civilization itself, written in microcosm.
The damage to the Titanic's hull caused by it's striking an iceberg may well have been less catastrophic had it not been for a number of other contributing tragic circumstances;
1. Due to a coal fire that burned in one of the ship's coal bunkers for three days prior to the Titanic's collusion and which was brought under control by the ship's fire-crew and posed no danger, under normal circumstances, to passengers and crew. However, at the fire's fiercest, it generated temperatures in excess of 1300 Fahrenheit, which caused the steel surrounding the coal bunker to become brittle and warp. It seems likely this contributed greatly to the hull's split. 2. Because of the heat generated by the coal fire, temperatures for passengers near the fire were uncomfortable and many of these passengers opened their cabin portholes in an effort to cool their cabins. The result of this, once lower decks began to flood was to facilitate the rate of flooding from lower decks. Estimates are that up to 20% of port-holes were left open. 3. Many of the life-rafts, which had capacities of 70+ passengers, only had 1/3 occupancy, which compounded the shortage of life-rafts to passenger ratio. Even had the life-rafts been full,to capacity, there was still only enough space for a little over HALF the passengers.
This book gives a fascinating blow by blow; through both eye witness accounts and the forensic and archaeological evidence, of the last days of Titanic's tragic plunge, 2.5 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Equally fascinating are glimpses of 'calm-at-the-eye-of-the-storm and parallels with tragedies as diverse as the eruption of Mt Vesuvius' effect on Pompeii and 9/11 (Twin Towers). Drawing parallels between a female passengers on board Titanic, who before leaving her cabin, had several fortifying glasses of whiskey and whilst her cabin and ever trace of it had been obliterated, the forensic scientists were not only able to identify the woman's cabin, but also locate the whiskey tumble exactly as described, amid the otherwise total destruction. The author drew a parallel to a table set perfectly in Pompeii, with all dishes, cutlery, goblets undisturbed, whilst the villa which originally housed this domestic setting was utterly obliterated.
I give this excellent account of real life maritime tragedy 4.5 stars.
Having watched many a Titanic documentary, I decided I wanted to read more. I recall reading Dr Ballard’s book in the ‘80’s, I should see if the Calgary Public Library has a copy ... ...Anyways. This was an amazing book that greatly enriched my knowledge of the people onboard, the sinking, and the aftermath. I did not expect that the events of September 11, 2001, would be woven into a book about the Titanic. However I completely understand why the author did this, given his personal connection to two victims, and the haunted wreckage that stirred the hearts of the people diving down deep. It was very moving, and respectful. I was somewhat amused at the author’s insistence of continued agnosticism, following stories of spiritual significance personally felt by him. With all of my white privilege, I had never wondered about people of colour being on the Titanic. Certainly the documentaries haven’t gone out of their way to feature them. In the 21st century, it is really hard to read of the racism so casually displayed in 1912. I mentally cheered for those that found their way onto a lifeboat anyways. I could read stories of exploring the wreckage for years. I gave the book a rating of 4 stars, because I honestly got tired of hearing the rustic Les. I know, I know, Charles Pellegrino was there for the biology. It was interesting to learn of how the rusticles came from upstream. I would love to learn more about the varied and unknown sea creatures inhabiting the wreck. I’ve had my fill of rusticles. I just downloaded Walter Lord’s books, should be a very interesting read. Especially since one was written after the wreck was found.
I’ve had a passion for the Titanic and it’s history ever since elementary school. It’s story is both exciting and heartbreaking; a ship of dreams and disaster.
This book did a wonderful job of bringing the reader back to that fateful night in 1912 while also intermingling the deep sea dives that occurred nearly a century later. In this way, the author was able to further uncover the truth of how the Titanic sank.
Can anyone say obsessed? I mean me -- although Mr. Pellegrino probably admittedly qualifies as well!
This book was fascinating. Charles Pellegrino has been studying the Titanic wreck for years, and is on the team of advisors for James Cameron's movie as well as his expedition dives -- all 13 of them!
Pellegrino also was friends with Walter Lord, who wrote the 1955 classic "A Night To Remember" based on all eye witness accounts of the sinking. This I now have downloaded on my Kindle and plan on reading it soon. Many of the accounts in Farewell are gleaned from over two thousand pages of interviews and correspondence between the two men, so this was my favourite parts of this book.
Although I also thoroughly enjoyed the science-ey parts of it, I got a bit tired of the whole "rusticle" thing. But that's just ME. Oh, and the 9/11 stuff, although extremely significant to the author and the expedition team on the day of the attacks (they were at sea at the wreck at the time), it did go on a bit too long in that vein.
I had just watched Ghosts of the Abyss the documentary that James Cameron did of his 2001 dive to the wreck, (which you can watch in its entirety on youtube) and this book was centered around this particular dive, so that made it probably more interesting than if I had NOT just seen the film.
All in all a good solid read, but not in my top recommendations for Titanic reads. What I really wanted was more of the accounts, which I had really not known, and Walter Lord's book will deliver them.
What was neat was the reference to some of the accounts and then directly referencing them with the 1997 film. Other than the personal accounts, that was the most enjoyable for me.
From scientific researcher Charles Pellegrino, comes Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy, a new forensic look at the Titanic disaster. A member of James Cameron’s 2001 expedition to the Titanic’s wreck site, Pellegrino recounts his experiences planning and executing the dives and the discoveries that were made. He also interweaves an account of the sinking using survivor account and evidence collected from the wreck; noting how different areas flooded due to open portholes and other contributing factors, and the resulting list. Ironically the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place during the expedition, become part of the story and offering parallels between the two events and new insights into Titanic’s sinking; in particular how column collapse contributed to how the debris was spread out at both the World Trade Center and the Titanic wreck. Some of the writing is overly technically and can be hard to understand, and the switching between the sinking narrative and the 2001 expedition narrative is sometimes awkward and jolting. Yet despite its problems, Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy is an interesting exploration into this tragedy that continues to fascinate the world.
Lots of detailed, fascinating research but this book is unfocused. Chaotic jumping back and forth through time, amd the author seems very unfocused. The bulk of the book does focus on the Titanic, but veers into biography, amd meanders into analogies to 9/11, Vesuvius, and the Cold War. This book would have greatly benefited from a firm editor's hand. Disappointing, given that there is enough fascinating insight into Titanic in this book to render everything else distracting. Would have been nice to have had photos in the book, as well.
Good technical information, but not a lot that I didn't know about. I'd have liked a few more hard and fast answers of why the iceberg won out, the causes of the sinking seem indirectly discussed at times or were just not clear enough for me I guess!
This is a very emotional book, the most interesting, thought provoking one I’ve read , although i did find it a little too technical in parts. The author has been down to the Titanic, and is bonded to it, and his new facts about Lightoller and Murdoch were eye opening. Excellent.