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Must read: Books inspired by Titanic tragedy

books Updated: Apr 09, 2012 07:45 IST

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With the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 2012, the compelling tragedy has prompted an array of books retelling the story of passengers aboard the world's biggest ship and recounting the haunting and enduring event.

The iconic tale grips readers with its elements from dreams and luxury to terror and survival. Each book takes a different focus, from historical perspective and firsthand testimonials to journalistic looks at maritime technology and immigration.

Recently released books (mostly in March) are timed for the 100th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage, some in paperback after previous hardcover publication, available as e-books or illustrated with images and photos. Here is a selection:

1. Titanic: The Death and Life of a Legend (Vintage Books) by Michael Davie

The reissue of a 1988 book, it is a comprehensive account of the ship, the disaster, the controversy and the 1985 expedition that discovered the remains on the ocean floor.

2. Titanic: First Accounts (Penguin) by Tim Maltin

First-hand recollections from survivors collected by the grandson of a survivor.

3. Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic (Da Capo) by Daniel Allen Butler

From conception to collision, a thoroughly researched chronicle reveals why the story endures.

4. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (Scholastic) by Deborah Hopkinson

A children's book, reporting on the ship and its tragic end, for ages 8 to 12, illustrated with photographs.

5. Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook the World - One Century Later (Life Books)

A coffee-table style photo book showing off the palatial space from ballroom to racquet ball court with detailed descriptions.

6. Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town (Oxford University Press) by John Weisman

Minute-to-minute reconstruction of the experience of twelve surviving passengers.

7. How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (HarperPerrenial)

Focuses on the ship's owner, who fled in a lifeboat with women and children, and his subsequent wrecked life of dishonor.

Fiction includes The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Titanic Tragedy (Titan Books) by William Seil, which imagines the famed detective aboard, and the reissued Every Man for Himself (Europe Editions) by Beryl Bainbridge, which follows the nephew of industrialist J.P. Morgan and others aboard.

Amazon's top ten Titanic books include Kindle editions, such as Lifeboat No. 8 by Elizabeth Kaye; the 1955 classic A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, who personally interviewed scores of surviving passengers; and Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats and the Worlds They Came From by Richard Davenport-Hines, exploring the range of social classes onboard.

In The Titanic for Dummies (History, Biography and Politics) by Stephen J. Spignesi, the book series uses its casual tone and signature graphic prompts of trivia and "things to remember," not designed to be read from beginning to end.