by Terri Bey
The Titanic Book Club's Book of the Month of May is "Recreating Titanic and Her Sisters: A Visual History," by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt. This book tells the stories of all three of the Olympic Class Ships, the RMS Titanic, the RMS Olympic, the RMS Titanic"s older sister, and the first of the class, which became a troopship during WW1 as HMT Olympic before returning to service as a passenger liner after the war, and the Britannic which became a hospital ship, HMHS Britannic. The authors tell the stories of these liners not just in print, but through beautiful artwork. The artwork is done by up-and-coming artists, such as Titanic Book Club member Tatiana Yamshanova. I have finished reading this book, I will be giving a complete review of this book.
Overall, "Recreating TItanic and Her Sisters: A Visual Sisters" by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt is an amazing book. The authors do a fantastic job of describing events and telling the story of the three Olympic Class sisters, the Titanic, the Olympic, and the Britannic in print. However, what makes this book amazing is the artwork. I loved seeing all the artwork showing all three sisters at sea. The artwork of both the wrecks of the RMS Titanic and the HMHS Britannic is also outstanding and is done in such detail. The artwork just makes the viewer think that he or she is looking at the actual ship. My favorite photos are on page 63 which show the heater and the basin. The artwork done by Alexandre de Araujo Nunes is exquisite and so detailed. The recreation of the Cafe Parisien, my favorite part of the Titanic was recreated so brilliantly by Chris Walker. All the recreations of the rooms, suites, and such made me feel like I was in those places. I could easily imagine myself in that lovely Cafe' Parisien and admiring the Ivy and the reddish carpeting. The authors also highlight certain items of importance in sidebars, such as clearing up falsehoods, such as the switch theory and the ship supposedly having too small a rudder, etc.
The stories of the Olympic and the Britannic are also well done by the authors and artists. The reader clearly sees how each ship improved on the previous model, both in luxury and comfort, but especially safety, as their most famous sister, the RMS Titanic, sank on her maiden voyage on April 15, 1912. Such improvements made on the Olympic, for example, the White Star Line fixed the compartments to where if 6 compartments were flooded, the Olympic would not sink. The Titanic was doomed in part, because the iceberg cut open 5 compartments, and she only was able to float with 4 compartments flooded. The Titanic also just had a double bottom, whereas the Olympic was given a double hull.
The authors, through the artwork and through print deftly tell the story of the Olympic's two careers, one as an ocean liner and the other as a troop ship during WW1, before returning to service as an ocean liner. The reader learns about how the RMS Olympic had a 24-year-old career, but unfortunately is nearly forgotten, as her two younger sisters both sank in tragic circumstances. One of the sinkings became one of the most notorious disasters in history. The HMHS Britannic, which was commissioned into service as a hospital ship sank in 55 minutes on November 21, 1916 after striking a mine, killing 30. The aforementioned RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 and sank the next morning in 2 hours 40 minutes, killing 1496.
The authors and artists also do a great job with the wrecks of both the Titanic and the Britannic. Both wrecks are treated with the utmost respect. The reader is made to feel like they are in a submersible looking at these wrecks. The artwork is fantastic. When I saw the artwork, I felt honored, but also sadness. I thought about the horror that those people must have gone through on both ships. Britannic victims getting killed by the rotating propeller had to have been horrible. Titanic victims dying from hypothermia or getting hit by the falling funnel is horrible, as well. As for the ships, I think they are beautiful in their own way, even though I am partial to the Titanic, which I think is the most beautiful object ever made by man. As I looked at the wrecks and the artwork, I also could not help thinking about the destruction of both beauties, and how awful and sad it was.
I totally recommend this book for beginning and experienced Titanic Enthusiasts. It was very well written and I just loved reading it. The artwork was so well done and so detailed that the reader is taken back in time. If you read the book and look at the photos, you will feel like you are on these ships. I highly recommend buying a copy.