Friday, April 8, 2011 Book Review: The Band That Played On

"The Band That Played On" by Steve Turner is a wonderful historical account of the lives of the members of the Titanic's band and their families. The author delves into the personal and professional lives of each man before they boarded the Titanic, including family history, musical training and experience, love life, social endeavors and more. Since the focus is the men and not the sinking, little time is spent discussing that event except to present the debate as to what their final tune may have actually been. The research here is exhaustive with occasionally more detail than expected (or necessarily needed) but it all serves to flesh out the stories of these men that not many people knew much about.

I was entirely enthralled by Turner's book. This actually surprised my husband since I'm not really a history book type person but since I'm intrigued by the events surrounding the Titanic, this book sucked me in. Turner does a wonderful job of fleshing out the lives of these men and how their story spread through the survivors of the Titanic. I found the ending a little open-ended but felt it fit with the events he was discussing. There are still several mysteries surrounding some of the musicians and one of them (Hartley's missing violin) might be solved before the centennial of the sinking next year. It was quite exciting news and a fitting end to the book. If you're interested in the Titanic specifically or history in general this is an informative, engaging read that gives you a glimpse into the lives of the heroic men of the Titanic's band.

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