White Star Lines built the Titanic to make money, but it's doubtful they ever imagined that the ship would continue to generate profits almost a century after it sank. Millions of words have been written about the ship, its passengers, their fate and the sinking's place in our history and psyche. Brad Matsen's new book, Titanic's Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, gives us another look at the famous ship, and a fresh perspective on an old story.
Chatterton and Kohler are the divers who discovered the sunken German U - boat U - 869; their exploration of that vessel off the coast of New Jersey was the subject of their first collaboration, Shadow Divers. This time the two are on the trail of the biggest shipwreck of all time. Specifically, they're given a clue by an acquaintance of Chatterton's that indicates there was more than an errant iceberg to blame for the ship's quick sinking. This bait they find irresistible, and they eventually find themselves aboard a Russian ship, scheduled for a dive to the wreck.
While their quest to the bottom of the ocean - and what they find there - is the reason for this book, the real heart of the story is Matsen's detailed and fascinating look at the men who dreamed, schemed, designed and built the Titanic. There's the unscrupulous American billionaire J.P. Morgan, who saw the Titanic as a means to gain control of the transatlantic passenger trade; the brilliant designer Thomas Andrews, destined to go down with his creation; the senior captain of White Star, Edward Smith, whose highly regarded reputation might not have been wholly deserved; and finally the Titanic's builder, J. Bruce Ismay, a reluctant tycoon who would forever after be the goat of the Titanic's story. Their actions drive the two divers' thesis - the loss of so many lives didn't have to happen. Was there a cover - up? And can they find concrete proof of their theory?Titanic's Last Secrets is a good title, and a good book. Whether that title proves to be the truth remains to be seen. James Neal Webb admits to being something of a Titanic geek.