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The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,267 ratings  ·  606 reviews
As the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on. Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the chartroom bel ...more
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
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Carissa About half of it is first person, about half third person. The book switches perspectives between a first person narration by a reporter, John…moreAbout half of it is first person, about half third person. The book switches perspectives between a first person narration by a reporter, John Steadman, and third person narration of the crew of the Californian.(less)

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Matt
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
On the night of April 15, 1912, Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian slept in his chartroom while the RMS Titanic sank as few as eight miles away. While the tired captain snoozed on his settee, young 2nd Officer Herbert Stone stood the middle watch. He observed eight white rockets explode above a ship visible in the distance. He told the captain twice, and was told in turn to signal with the Morse lamp. Neither Lord nor Stone did anything more, showing a distinctly curious lack of curiosity for rockets expl ...more
Michael
Most of us here know about the tragic events of April 14 1912, when the worlds most luxurious ocean liner the Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk in the Atlantic, taking over 1'500 souls to a watery grave. But what has not been as well known is the apparent unresponsiveness of another ship, the Californian, that seemingly failed to go to the aid of the stricken liner and its passengers and crew. It is these events that is the basis of a powerful and impressive debut novel.

Retelling the story of the sink
...more
PattyMacDotComma
4.5★
Who knew? Who knew that there was another ship nearby that might have been able to warn the Titanic or save her passengers? In fact, it seems likely they may have been saved.

The movies of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic focus on the flawed magnificence of the ship, the wealthy passengers on the ship’s maiden voyage, and the iceberg that caused the disaster. But the missed communications were the real cause.

Not miscommunications. Missed. Overlooked. Overruled.

The Californian’s wireless op
...more
Brenda
The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons and trances. P215

As the Californian sailed through the ice, the decision was made to stop – it was 14th April 1912 and not far before midnight. The ice was thick and in the darkness the risk of running into an iceberg was high. Captain Lord decided it would be prudent to wait until morning before taking the steamer through the ice. Second Officer Herbert Stone took over for the midnight watch and at the beginning and during his watch he saw eight rockets
...more
Lori
Jun 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was just so,so for me. It was fascinating reading about the Titanic from a different perspective, however, it just seemed to go on and on. I found myself bored towards the middle. I couldn't help but be reminded of Col. Nathan R. Jessep in the film A Few Good Men when trying to relate to Captain Lord. Not a bad read, just could've been shortened. 3.5 stars.
Carolyn
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, the unsinkable ship, hit and sunk by an iceberg on it's maiden voyage. Some may also recall the SS Californian, the ship closest to the Titanic that failed to respond to its distress rockets and arrived too late to save anyone. This book explores that story in an almost journalistic way, trying to understand the actions and personalities of those in charge of the Californian at the time.

Using newspaper reports and accounts from the US Senate and British
...more
Veeral

Since this is a fictionalized account of a true event, I can't review this book properly without spoiling a bit of it for you. So stop right now if you don't know that the Titanic sank.

Even more than 100 years after the fact, people are still reading about the Titanic. Authors are still writing about it. It might not have been possible if it wasn't for one man, Stanley Lord.

Stanley Lord was the captain of a small tramp steamer, SS Californian (6223 grt; why David Dyer never mentions the ship's weight (in this case, volume) is be
...more
Carrie
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian is a fictional novel written based on the facts of the tragedy that happened on April 14, 1912 with the loss of 1500 lives when the Titanic ran into an iceberg and sunk. A lot of the facts and characters are true with a bit of embellishment on some of the story.

The novel focuses on the Californian, a ship that was the closest to the Titanic at the time of the tragedy but did not respond to the distress flares that were sent up. A jo
...more
Susan
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There have been many novels written about Titanic, but it is rare to find something which looks at events from a different angle. However, this is certainly an unusual look at the disaster, which centres on the actions of the S.S. Californian on the night Titanic went down. For those who are not familiar with what happened, the Californian was actually the nearest ship to Titanic that night, but it was the RMS Carpathia who reached the site of the disaster first and rescued any survivors.

The no
...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is an exciting and at times (toward the end of the book) emotionally draining, work of fiction retelling of the story of the Titanic - but largely from the point of view of the Californian, the ship that never went to help them.

This story is told from the points of view of John Steadman, a reporter working on the case who becomes obsessed with understanding the reason the Californian never responded to the Titanic's distress rockets. Steadman is a fictional characters but he makes a good vehicle for the story, despit
...more
Ioana
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
So we've all heard the story of the sinking of the Titanic (even if our only exposure was through Kate & Leo)- but did you know that the historical record shows that many more lives could have been saved if only a nearby ship, the Californian, had responded to the Titanic's distress signals?

David Dyer's impressive debut novel offers a plausible retelling of these events. Brimming with details from official reports, newspaper accounts, and other evidence, this meticulously researched novel not only offers us an account
...more
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
To read more of my reviews go to Lit. Wit. Wine and dine.

The Midnight Watch provides us with a beautifully written, compelling, and moving account of the failure of the Californian, a fellow White Star Line ship, to respond to the distress signals of the Titanic in those fateful early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Eight individual white rockets indicating distress were fired from the deck of Titanic. Second Officer Herbert Stone, of the Californian, reported this to Captain Stanley Lord and Lord chose to stay in bed, doing absolutely nothing about/>The
...more
Marianne
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Midnight Watch is the first novel by Australian teacher and author, David Dyer. While the story of the sinking of the SS Titanic in April 1912 will be familiar to most people, the part played in the drama by the master and crew of the SS Californian is probably less well-known. While it is argued about, many accept that the Californian was the ship closest to Titanic when she sank; was, in fact, within sight of Titanic, and did not react when Titanic fired off eight distress rockets at five- ...more
Debbie Robson
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a Titanic tragic. The sinking has fascinated me since 1976, the year I was married. Soon after the wedding I lost my engagement ring for twenty four hours whilst I was working in the second biggest pub in the London. Can you guess where I found it? Yep, in the pages of the 1976 illustrated edition of Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember.
In 1997 just a week or two before I left Mr Engagement Ring after twenty years of marriage, there was a notice in the paper about the death of Edith Haisman,
...more
RitaSkeeter
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, historical
This book doesn't have any Kate or Leo. No doomed love. No swooning. No sex in the back of automobiles whilst being chased around the ship.

This book is the investigation of journalists, with a focus on one [fictional] journalist in particular, who is reporting on the Titanic's sinking. A strength brought to the book by having a journalist narrate is the detachment it brings to the story. We aren't so distressed by the events that we can't focus on the story the author wants us to h
...more
Cindy Burnett
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
Titanic stories have always fascinated me. While I am familiar with much of what happened with the Titanic before, during, and after its demise, I was not aware of the complete story regarding the Californian, and its utter and negligent failure to potentially stop the Titanic tragedy. As the story unfolded, I simply could not put this book down.

In Part One of the novel, Dyer creates a fictional journalist, John Steadman, to uncover and pursue what exactly transpired on the Californian the nig
...more
Kat
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit I did not know an enormous amount of detail regarding the Titanic disaster, only a vague idea of the number of survivors, that first class passengers got priority in the lifeboats & that some lifeboats were allowed to leave without being at full capacity. At most, I had wondered how such a huge disaster could have occurred - and why more people were not able to be rescued.

Had I looked into it a little further, The Midnight Watch might not have been such a colossal
...more
Book Haunt
John Steadman, journalist for the Boston American is called "The Body Man". He is known for going on scene to a tragedy and telling the stories of those who died.

When the luxury passenger ship, the RMS Titanic sinks during her maiden voyage, John rushes to find out what happened to those who died so he can tell their story. The story unfolds in small bits and it becomes apparent to John that there is a bigger story to tell this time.

The SS Californian, a mid-size cargo ship, was in the same
...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The movie Titanic, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet brought the tragedy of the Titanic to a whole new audience. Filled with theatrics, special effects and a mesmerizing love story audiences flocked to the theater. This is not that book, this is a slower paced, especially the first half, look at what came after. Something I'll admit to never giving a thought. Why did the Californian, a ship so close, not rushed to the aid of the sinking ship?

John Steadman, is an investigative reporte
...more
Jenni
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was gorgeous. I may be wearing Titanic obsession glasses that I cannot shed, but honestly I was absolutely enthralled by this book. From the description I expected a slow moving picture of the events of the night the Titanic sank from onboard the Californian, the Titanic, and a little bit of the reporter's story back in America. But no. So much no. The first few chapters are a haunting picture of the midnight watch the night the Titanic sank. From there was travel along with the main n ...more
Tamara
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
I went into this book with no expectations and a little exasperation, reading a book you have to is never as fun as reading the ones you want to.

As soon as I started this book I realised how wrong I was. There was something almost poetic about Dyer's writing style, and the way he vividly crafted the scenes of the Titanic and Californian had me so emotionally invested it wasn't funny.

Never has the last line of a book been so perfect that my heart has stopped until 'The
...more
Ann
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

When I was a kid, I was very very very obsessed with the Titanic, but in a sort of unhealthy way. It TERRIFIED me. If I thought about it too much around water, I'd get lightheaded and have to sit down. I wanted to learn everything possible about it, but was so deathly afraid that I couldn't touch the pages of my books about it. By the time the movie came out, I was much more reasonable about everything, but looking at pictures of t
...more
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adult readers/history buffs
Reporter John Steadman comes up against difficulty when he begins to question the actions of the captain of the Californian about the night the Titanic went down.
(Opening line)-“In the early years of the twentieth century my father heard that there was good money to be made in Venezuela.”-(John Steadman)
Great read for historical fiction fans! Raises some interesting questions about how far loyalty to a superior in command should be taken.
The parts about the eleven-member Sage f
...more
Book Concierge
2.5**

Subtitle: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian

When the Titanic struck the ice berg in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, she was not the only ship in those waters. Crew and passengers noticed the lights of a ship on the horizon, and attempts were made to signal that ship for assistance. That ship was the Californian … and she arrived too late. This novel attempts to explain why.

Dyer chose to write the book from two perspectives: Californian’s Second Officer Herbert Stone, who was the officer in charge o
...more
Cheryl
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the early years of the twentieth century, the second officer on an ocean going ship had the unenviable duty of manning the midnight watch on the bridge. The midnight watch lasted from midnight until four.

On the evening of April 14, 1912, aboard the British steamer Californian, that duty fell to 24 year old Herbert Stone. Earlier that evening, Captain Stanley Lord had stopped the Californian after they encountered many icebergs. They would stay where they were at least until the morning. Earl
...more
Erin
“The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons and trances.”

I loved this chilling tale about the events of the greatest maritime disaster of the time, and the nearby steam ship that did nothing. 1500 people perished in the icy waters that night and this book, whether you are a Titanic enthusiast like the author, or just enjoy a good investigative story about finding out the truth and what to do with it once its discovered, then this book is for you. Dyer provides an excellent blen
...more
Reading Harbor
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ugh! I am so annoyed. I just typed a really long review and then hit the back button and it accidentally got deleted. Anyways, I am giving this book 5 stars. It is a well-written historical fiction that is gripping. It is very detailed and yet at the same time the author chooses words concisely. From reading the book, I can tell the writer has a deep passion for historical fiction and also did a lot of research. He also must have a naval background. His descriptions are filled with emotion. I wo ...more
Kerri
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aussie-author
Wow, if only............
I never knew this part of the story, such a sad tale if you stop and think about how differently the outcome could have been. This is a five star read for me, as even though some parts of it dragged a little, it's a story that will stay with me forever.
Christine (KizzieReads)
Such a good book. It may have been fictional in some senses, but it felt very real, as if you were there when it all happened. I felt so bad for the entire Sage family at the end. All 11 members of the family lost at sea. Such a tragedy all around.
Morris
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the story of the Titanic disaster. I believe this can be said of many who grew up to become historians or develop a lifelong love of history. “The Midnight Watch” is a well-researched novel about the Californian, the ship that watched as the Titanic sank.

It’s almost inexplicable why there has been so little written about the events on the ship. The actions of her crew, or more correctly inactions, arguably changed the fate of o
...more
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David Dyer spent many years as a lawyer at the London legal practice whose parent firm represented the Titanic’s owners in 1912. He has also worked as a cadet and ship’s officer on a wide range of merchant vessels, having graduated with distinction from the Australian Maritime College. His worldwide research and access to countless documents and artifacts has informed and inspired his work in The ...more
“The ice seemed to suck everything from the world - the waves, the wind, light, warmth - everything.” 3 likes
“This century, whether it be wonderful or horrible, was going to belong to the women.” 2 likes
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