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The Company of the Dead

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  836 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
He could feel it. The flutter of butterfly wings that would herald a brighter, better world. He looked out to the flat, calm ocean, the moonless night. Beyond the ship's illumination the dark waters rose up so that he felt as if he and the ship lay at the centre of a vast opaque bowl. Then at a distance, under the starlight's dim flicker, he saw it. First, a jagged edge, t ...more
Kindle Edition, 430 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Titan Books (first published August 2007)
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Dec 03, 2011 marked it as unread  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Caris
Warning: This is a non-review review. If you are one of those priggish scolds who demands actual review reviews, pass this one by. I'm just not in the mood right now for one of those 'How dare you review a book without reading it!' lectures. It's a free galaxy, so go ahead and buzz off. (Who am I kidding? Nobody will notice the irrelevance of this review because nobody will notice this book.)

I am David Kowalski. No, not that David Kowalski—the world-renowned Australian gynecologist who writes al
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD is an alternate-history novel that centers around the sinking of the Titanic. At the start, a time traveler named Wells attempts to stop the well-known disaster from occurring. He doesn't succeed, but he does delay the event by three hours. This small change creates massive ramifications that drastically alter the future. America is no longer United, Hitler is a famous artist, and most of the globe is under the rule of either the Japanese or German empires. A young man na ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
It is the maiden voyage of the Titanic and one man aboard knows exactly what is about to happen. As he hands the man on watch a pair of unusual binoculars he tells him to keep a close eye out for anything. As the warning whistles blow the ship avoids a collision with an iceberg … only to hit another one three hours later. Three hours which were enough time to change the list of survivors and thereby change the course of history.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The premise of the story
Megan Baxter
This is, it appears, a first novel by a medical doctor. I'm not sure that the doctor part comes across in the book, but some of the inexperience does. As it stands, this book has promise. It also has terrible pacing, and needs more fully developed characters to take advantage of the admittedly intriguing ideas he's throwing out there. In summary, it's uneven.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this de
Rachael Rodgers
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I’ve read in a long, long time…

The premise behind this book lies in the theory of chaos. This theory describes how a seemingly inconsequential event can change the way subsequent events evolve. In regards to the weather, it describes how the flapping of a single butterfly’s wing produces a tiny change to the state the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to diverge from what it would have done otherwise. The net effect being that markedly different weather conditions can even
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually rated this book 4.5 stars but decided to round it up since it is a fascinating read.

It is April 1912 and Jonathan Wells is travelling on the Titanic towards New York. Armed with knowledge that he shouldn’t be able to have he is on a mission to save the ship from the Iceberg that would make the ships maiden-voyage also her last. His action will have shocking results for the world, results Wells couldn’t have foreseen and doesn’t live to experience.
In April 2012 a newly build copy of th
May 27, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like playing with the idea of alternative histories, like Fatherland. In this case, the query is: what would have happened if the Titanic hadn't gone down? Or if it had gone down and different people had survived? That's the way the book opens, and it's fairly good (though the main character uses the F-word so much that one of the contemporary passengers asks why he's being so crude), but then the book cuts to the present, where the Confederacy is still around, and the Japanese occupy New York ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
At times I found this book a gripping and encompassing read, and then other times I just wanted Kowalski to get on with it.

The idea of what would happen if the history of the Titantic changed is interesting, and I liked the plays with history ideas.

The pacing could have been slightly better, and the sole female character better drawn - not been the object of lust for so many men.
Nathaniel Gritsman
Loved this book to bits. It's scope is truly huge.
As an historical fiction it's both fascinating in its exploration of an alternative (and fascinating) 20th century as well as presenting the most realized world I've yet to explore.
From there it segways seamlessly into an amazing thriller, with wild action sequences and an exploration of paradox which you'll never see coming. (at least I didn't!)
The book is excellently written, brilliantly plotted, and I read a blog somewhere that stated the alt
Stephen Arvidson
We’ve all heard of the ‘Butterfly Effect’: a metaphor in chaos theory wherein a butterfly flaps its wings in Central Park resulting in a devastating hurricane in China—a tiny, seemingly inconsequential change in a nonlinear system leading to immense, even catastrophic changes of a future state. This theory largely drives the debate concerning time travel and provides the stimulus for a great many science fiction stories, including The Company of the Dead.

The fluttering butterfly wings of this ma
Stephen Holak
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, the best book I have read in the past year, and one of the best time-travel / alternate history works ever. From plot, to prose, to tone and intersection with actual historical events, this book is masterful.

I give it five stars; however, I do have one small critique: the main protagonist, Joe Kennedy, could have used a bit more character development, perhaps in the form of internal monologue or emotional reaction to events. We do get a decent sense of the man, but I closed the
Jul 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This profoundly tedious seven hundred page epic fails as a kooky science fiction tale, fails as a tense thriller and fails as a character study of its lead; the disturbing moral hypocrite Joseph Kennedy, who the narrative begs and pleads with every gasping breath we root for. Shilled into the second coming by his rabid band of fanatics that compose the rest of this aggravating tale's cast.

A simple and conceptually effective 'For want of a nail' story misses the mark by three archery dojos as mor
Matt Mitrovich
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just because something is improbable does not mean it is impossible. That is a common phrase you will find in David Kowalski's The Company of the Dead. Originally published in Australia, this award-winning novel is Kowalski first work to be published in the United States and a lot of hype has come with it, including praise from John Birmingham and S. M. Stirling. So does the novel deserve the attention it has been getting?

The story begins when a time traveler from OTL goes back in time to preven
Danielle Neldon
The last 50 pages were great-everything a time-travel novel should be. However, you had to force your way through hundreds of pages of boring military strategy to get to it. Not really worth it.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World-savers
Recommended to Alan by: Chance
This squat, massive trade paperback has room enough on the spine to print the quote that drew me in... "A magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters" (Library Journal). Well, no. Magnificent, it's not. But... The Company of the Dead is well-timed, coming as it does upon the centennial of the Titanic's sinking, and it is for the most part suspenseful and compelling.

Time traveler Jonathan Wells keeps the Titanic from colliding with the iceberg
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book needs to be a movie. A dumb, action packed, James Cameron (maybe that's just because he did Titanic) movie. If this thing only took 2 hours and was all Hollywood and action packed, I probably would have liked it. I wouldn't have loved it, but I might have at least liked it.

Instead, it is a 750 page monstrosity with little to redeem it except the moral of "don't do time travel, it fucks things up." I'm pretty sure (given the all knowing ghost dancers) that Kowalski would also want me t
Paul Lunger
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Kowalski's "The Company of the Dead" is perhaps the most complicated alternate history story in the history of the genre & yet it's more than that & then some. The story begins with the premise that the Titanic doesn't sink when it's supposed to on April 15, 1912 due to the interference of Jonathan Wells who changes the when & leaves one rather important person alive after the sinking. Fast forward a century into a world where the US didn't enter WWI thus causing the Confederac ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I'm hovering somewhere between 3 and 4 stars on this, so I guess it's a solid 3.5. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it had some definite pacing/editing issues. It could easily have been at least 200 pages shorter, and would have been a better novel for it. You figure out fairly early on where everything is headed, but it takes 500+ pages of meandering to get there. Instead of a tense climax and big payoff once you do get there, the pacing slows way down and stalls out for another 50+ pages. Someone so ...more
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick Nichol
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What an epic adventure.
This is a truly satisfying read by first-time novelist David Kowalski, a rich alternate-history/time-travel tapestry sandwiched between a bloody war story.
One man from the future ends up on the Titanic on April 14, 1912 the night of her disastrous sinking. This man (named Wells in a literary in-joke)hands Lookout Frederick Fleet a pair of 21st Century binoculars to aid his watch.
These help Fleet sight an iceberg, warn the bridge, and help avoid disaster. But Titanic h
Alex Lee
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kowalski made a masterpiece here. The basis of the novel reels you in -- a man goes back in time to try to save the Titanic, and the future is altered greatly as a result. The backstory is detailed and solid, with plenty of interesting alterations to what actually occurred. It did mess with my head a bit, though; my historical knowledge, as limited as it had been beforehand, was jumbled with the 'reality' of the novel. The dialogue isn't boring, with plenty of description yet not so much to the ...more
What an interesting concept. A crazy time travel story which takes place in the present and the it e of the Titanic. A marvelous What if. I loved the begining of the story, my problem came in the middle where the book really dragged. After awhile I just didn't care about the alternate history timeline. The story in the past crackled though. I would have cut a few pages out if this book. I think it would have been a tighter, faster read. I still enjoyed it but be warned if long books are not your ...more
Shane Wilson
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a while back in the Aussie editon. This book blew my mind when it first came out. I was expecting escapism and a fair amount of cliche, just a chunky read.
Well, there's a lot of familiar tropes here, the titanic, Roswell, the Kennedys. But cliche? Nah. It takes a while to get in to it, but once I cracked the first quarter it was a smooth sail (pun intended). THis is a seriously fun, seriously entertaining read. It actually got me reading some histroy books too!
Amazing concept, really gets you thinking about the past, the present and the future and the ideas of fate or freewill
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2018
In 1912, time traveller Jonathan Wells boards the Titanic, hoping to save her from her impending sinking. As a consequence of his actions, the US never enter World War I and the history of the 20th century unfolds differently. By 2012 in this new timeline, most of the world, including what used to be the United States, is controlled by the German and Japanese Empires, and a war is brewing that threatens to be more devastating than any seen before in this timeline or any other. Enter Joseph Kenne ...more
Lisa Stethem
I would give this book 4 stars if it was only the first 180 pages and the last 150 pages. 750 pages was way to long and the middle drags something terrible. I love the time travel aspect and this book would make a great movie. Nice twists and turns toward the end.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first 100 pages and the last 100 pages are awesome... unfortunately it's a 750-page book.
Frederick Heald
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: backlog
I enjoyed this, but got about halfway through before getting bogged down and giving up; it didn't seem to be going anywhere.
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Impressive debut novel that won multiple awards in author's home country of Australia. Great for fans of alternative history and/or time-travel stories.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this very long and difficult to keep track of all the details.
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Misspelled name on purpose? 4 37 Jan 12, 2016 12:46PM  
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