The Band That Played On

The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic
The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic. Thomas Nelson. Mar. 2011. c.256p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781595552198. $24.99. HIST
The story of the ship's band playing cheerful music to calm passengers as the Titanic sank seized the public's imagination from the earliest reports, and the musicians became instant legends, lauded for their bravery. They were hired through an agency and were technically second-class passengers, not employees of the shipping line, despite their shipboard duties. All eight men died, and survivors claimed that they heard music playing until the very end. The historical record on their personal lives is thin, but Turner (An Illustrated History of Gospel) clearly did extensive research and presents plausible scenarios when required to speculate. He offers a picture of the lives of these particular musicians, along with much information on the work of professional musicians generally in the early 20th century. He even takes on the 99-year-old debate about the last song played. Especially poignant are the stories about the surviving dependants of the band members and their difficulties with legal claims and retrieving personal effects.
VERDICT Titanic completists will certainly want this book, which should also appeal to those interested in the perspective on music history.
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