The Iceberg Cometh

By Kaplan, David A.; Underwood, Anne | Newsweek, November 25, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Iceberg Cometh


Kaplan, David A., Underwood, Anne, Newsweek


The RMS Titanic sank 84 years ago, but there's a new wave of interest in the great ship. See the mini-series, hum the musical, buy the cookbook WHEN EDITH BROWN HAISMAN last saw her daddy nearly 85 ago, he was standing on deck smoking a cigar and smiling at his wife and daughter. "I'll see you in New York," he said confidently, as his family was bundled into Lifeboat No, 14. There had been no sense of urgency when the Titanic first struck an iceberg out there in the North Atlantic at 20 minutes before midnight. "Everyone kept saying, 'She's unsinkable'," recalls Haisman, now 100 and living in Southampton, England. She wondered why they were abandoning the most magnificent movable thing ever built, on its maiden voyage. Not until she was lowered into the 28-degree ocean did she see just how much of the 882-foot liner was underwater. Huddled together against the cold, saying almost nothing, Haisman and her mother watched as the band played a hymn, the lights flickered out and, in a thunderous roar, everything on the supership seemed to break loose. Grand pianos, brass beds, English china and the 29 immense boilers that fueled it lurched toward the submerged bow. The black hull tilted perpendicularly; its three great propellers reared against the heavens. And then it was gone, along with Mr. Brown and 1,522 other souls.

Walter Lord called it "A Night to Remember" in his classic 1955 best seller (now in. its 65th printing). For Haisman and the rest of the 704 survivors, it was, as she still shudders, "a night to forget." But the world has never let the night of April 14, 1912, pass into oblivion. Seventeen movies, 18 documentaries, at least 130 books and the "rivet counters"-hard-core fans so obsessed with every detail they can account for all 3 million screws-have proliferated from the moment the New York Evening Sun declared, ALL SAVED FROM TITANIC AFTER COLLISION. And why not? It remains an incredible story--a colossal confluence of bad luck, bad timing and bad navigation. "The three most written-about subjects of all-time," speculates historian Steven Biel in a new cultural history of the disaster, Down With the Old Canoe, may be "Jesus, the Civil War, and the Titanic." Christ and Gettysburg changed the world-but a boat and a berg?

Now comes the latest outbreak of Titanic fever. Sure, the sinking was a calamity, but some of the commemorations have all the solemnity of a carnival. This week, Titanic, a four-hour mini-series, is airing on CBS; it stars George C. Scott as the ill-fated Capt. Edward J. Smith, who looks like he's been steering from the dessert table but otherwise does a fine "glub ... glub ... glub." In April, Titanic, the $10 million musical-yes, the musical--opens on Broadway, in time for the anniversary of the sinking (giving your play this title takes guts, sort of like GM calling its new sedan "Lemon"). The biggest, most expensive show arrives this summer: Titanic, the $120 million movie, promises to be terrifying-think "Jaws" on ice-as well as tragic. The director is James Cameron (box), the fellow who gave us the terrifying "Terminator." Comeroh's titanic "Titanic" stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

And that's only, well, the tip of the iceberg. The story inspired English novelist Beryl Bainbridge in her latest book, Every Man for Himself, short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize. Then there are two museum exhibitions of artifacts recovered from the deep by George Tulloch. He's the treasure-hunter who founded the publicly traded RMS Titanic, Inc., which owns exclusive salvage rights to the wreck. One exhibit opens Nov. 27 at the Nauticus National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Va., the other in April in Memphis, Tenn. (A similar show last year in Greenwich, England, brought in 700,000 visitors, including Tom Cruise, who rented out the place for an evening.)

The rivet counters will love two new interactive CD-ROMs, a Web site where for $25 you can purchase your very own chunk of Titanic coal and--this just in--the revolutionary Sonicare[R] toothbrushing system.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Iceberg Cometh
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?