10 Best Titanic Books You Should Read To Know The Real Story

The RMS Titanic was a passenger luxury liner owned and operated by the White Star Line. Registered in Britain, it was intended to serve as a trans-Atlantic liner operating between Southampton and New York City.

It was a first in many fields at that time, including the most luxurious and the largest ship in service. Its sinking in 1912 is considered to be one of the deadliest peacetime marine disaster.

During salvage operations, it was estimated to be the largest ocean liner wreck that was still in use at the time of the sinking.

The RMS Titanic had two sister ships, RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, and belonged to the Olympic class of White Star ocean liners. It was constructed in the yards of Harland and Wolff, a reputed naval shipyard based out of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The ship sank on its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg that had gone unnoticed. Over 1,500 passengers and crew died of hypothermia and drowning, out of the 2,224 onboard.

The sinking was caused due to rapid flooding of five holds of the ships due to damage sustained on collision with the iceberg.

Unfortunately, the Titanic had been built with watertight structures to prevent sinking only up to flooding of four holds at the fore. The vessel eventually capsized due to waterlogging and sank in a matter of hours.

Just over 700 survivors were picked up by RMS Carpathia that had responded to the distress signal. The sinking and subsequent investigations brought to light serious problems in the safety arrangements on passenger’s vessels.

This led to the creation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) two years after the sinking.

The tragic sinking of the luxury liner spawned many movies and books retelling the incidents that led to the fateful disaster. In this article, we look at the top 10 must-read books on the Titanic.

1. 882 ½ Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic

By Hugh Brewster, Laurie Coulter, and Ken Marschall

Aimed at being a children’s guide to the Titanic ocean liner, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in firsthand accounts of the tragic maiden voyage undertaken by the ship. In the form of 882 ½ intriguing and thought-provoking questions, the book raises queries that many readers might have encountered. Written in a clear and lucid manner, this 100-page guide is remarkably easy to understand. Illustrator Ken Marschall has included dozens of paintings, photographs, and diagrams that provide an insight into the voyage of the ship. The book is complete with featurettes on the making of James Cameron’s blockbuster film “Titanic”, as well as the real-life accounts of passengers and crew. It includes quizzes about the ship and differentiates between actual facts and myths surrounding the vessel.

882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About th
  • Hardcover Book
  • Brewster, Hugh (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 12/11/2018 (Publication Date) - Firefly Books (Publisher)

2. Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy

By Charles Pellegrino

Published 100 years after the fateful maiden voyage of the ocean liner Titanic, author Charles Pellegrino has combined fact and a clever writing style to provide his readers with a unique perspective on the tragedy. As an expert in this field, the author provides what is considered to be the last accurate source on the Titanic prior to the wreckage eventually collapsing. Complete with firsthand accounts from the last few survivors of the ship, stunning images of the discovery, and subsequent exploration of the wreck, the book provides an in-depth analysis into the last few hours of the Titanic. It further goes on to analyze the stories of hundreds of people who lost their lives, and the international efforts taken to prevent a repeat of such a disaster. The author has also provided research material for James Cameron’s Titanic and was personally involved in the post-discovery analysis of the wreckage.

Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pellegrino, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 03/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Wiley (Publisher)

3. The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

By Gareth Russell

The Titanic claimed the lives of over 1,500 people when it sank in 1912. However, author Gareth Russel looks at the disaster through the experiences of six privileged individuals- the Countess of Rothes, the architect of the Titanic, an American model and actress, the co-owner of the renowned Macy’s departmental store, and an American captain of the industry along with his son. The compelling tale of how a journey meant to underline the luxuries of that time quickly turned into a nightmare has been beautifully woven in this a must-read thriller. The book also takes a stance on the Edwardian culture that was prevalent during the tragedy, and the subsequent criticism it faced. Complete with histories and accounts from the survivors, the book provides a full understanding of the disaster and the far-reaching effects it had on the survivors.

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era
  • Hardcover Book
  • Russell, Mr. Gareth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 11/19/2019 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

4. Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived

By Andrew Wilson

The maiden voyage of the Titanic ended in tragedy for thousands of passengers. But for 700 of them, it was a harrowing tale of survival and escape. In this book aimed at putting forward the stories of the survivors, author Andrew Wilson has crafted a gripping tale that presents a new take on the disaster. The 400-page account of those who survived the tragic sinking of the largest ocean liner of that time and the heroes and villains of that infamous night have been laid out for the reader to judge. Including the stories of the wealthier passengers, the crew, and the poor souls trapped in the bilges of the ship, the book is incredibly well-researched and is an essential read for anyone interested in the survivor’s tales of the Titanic.

Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived
  • Wilson, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 03/26/2013 (Publication Date) - Atria (Publisher)

5. A Night to Remember

By Walter Lord

Published for the first time over 50 years ago, author Walter Lord weaves a tale of the human element that played a major role during the sinking of the Titanic. Through interviews, personal records, and well-researched facts, a whole new perspective on the last few hours of the doomed liner has been presented in this book. The fateful night of the sinking of the Titanic had many aspects to it, where some people saved lives, while others fought tooth and claw to protect themselves. Presented as a by-the-minute recreation of the tragedy, this book is a thriller that leaves you with a sense of what the last few passengers on the ship would have experienced. From those who struggled to escape from the bottom of the ship to the hundreds of passengers floating on the frigid waters waiting for rescue, every angle of the tragedy has been covered lucidly and in stunning detail.

Night to Remember (Holt Paperback)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • LORD, WALTER (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 182 Pages - 01/07/2005 (Publication Date) - Griffin (Publisher)

6. DK Eyewitness Books: Titanic: Learn the Full Story of This Tragic Ship from its Famous Passengers to the Exploration of its Remains

By Simon Adams

Part of the 100 plus Eyewitness Books series published by Dorling Kindersley (DK), the book covers the history and subsequent investigation, discovery, and exploration of the doomed ocean liner- the Titanic. Including survivor accounts, historic photographs, and details on the salvage operations that were undertaken, this guide can be used as a complete authority on the subject. Stories on some of the wealthy and famous passengers have also been covered, with detailed accounts of their actions during the sinking. The book also goes into great depth on the subject of the exploration operations that were undertaken in an effort to salvage the wreckage that was discovered several decades later.

DK Eyewitness Books: Titanic
  • Adams, Simon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 72 Pages - 06/16/2014 (Publication Date) - DK Children (Publisher)

7. Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book)

By Ken Marschall and Hugh Brewster

Through the power of visual aids and diagrams, this masterpiece by illustrator Ken Marschall presents a new way of educating today’s youth about a poignant event from the past. Aimed at young children between 6 to 9 years of age, the book presents an intriguing analysis of the plans, construction, and eventual sinking of the Titanic. Complete with cutaways that show the inner workings and structure of the ocean liner, it provides a simple and clear understanding of the vessel and the events that led up to the sinking. Included in the book is a four-page view of the entire plan of the vessel, that is aimed at building interest amongst young readers.

Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Brewster, Hugh (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 07/01/1997 (Publication Date) - Madison Press Book - Little, Brown & Company (Publisher)

8. Discovery of the Titanic (Exploring the Greatest of All Lost Ships)

By Robert D. Ballard and Ken Marschall

From author Robert Ballard, the famed explorer who discovered the Titanic wreckage in 1985, and illustrator Ken Marschall who has worked on many books based on the Titanic in the past, comes this larger than life account about one of the most poignant moments in maritime history.

Based largely on the discovery and subsequent exploration that took place around the sunken ship, the book makes use of accurate details recorded by the author. Including detailed analysis of what really took place during the final hours of the doomed ship, written records have been provided to give the reader a clear idea.

Written in a lucid manner, the book further goes on to clear up many of the myths surrounding the sinking and wreckage of the ship. The book stands out for providing readers with the location of the final resting place of the Titanic.

Discovery Of The Titanic (Exploring The Greatest Of All Lost Ships)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Robert D. Ballard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 238 Pages - 02/01/1988 (Publication Date) - Warner/Madison Press (Publisher)

9. On A Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic

By Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt

Constructed as a masterful retelling of the events that took place on the fateful night of 15th April 1912, “On A Sea of Glass” provides a wealth of information for avid researchers.

Based on the series of events that led up to the sinking, the book goes on to record the experiences of those who survived. Through the eyes of the persons involved in the design, construction, and launch, the first half of the book relives the experiences of those working on the ship.

The remainder of the book deals with facts and myths attached to the voyage, and analyses the memoirs and essays of the survivors recounting the finer details of what took place on the night the Titanic sank. The two-part book keeps the reader on edge throughout as they are taken on a journey of tragedy, courage and sacrifice.

Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pellegrino, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 03/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Wiley (Publisher)

10. Titanic 1912: The Original News Reporting of the Sinking of the Titanic

By Ken Rossignol

Marine historian Ken Rossignol presents the story of the Titanic from a unique perspective in this book- news reporting. Through the original reports, news clippings, and numerous interviews, it presents a clear picture of what really took place on the night the Titanic sank.

Often cited as one of the most accurate books on the subject, it is frequently used as a research tool and educational guide in schools and other institutions.

Drawing on survivor interviews, correspondence between Harland & Wolff and White Star Line, letters from the survivors, and several detailed essays on the topic, it is sure to leave the reader with a proper understanding of the topic. The lucid and clear writing also helps break down the journalistic practices of the early 20th century.

On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Fitch, Tad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1661 Pages - 08/28/2013 (Publication Date) - Amberley Publishing (Publisher)

Over to you..

Do you any other book that can be added to this list?

Let’s know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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About Author

Ajay Menon is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, with an integrated major in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Besides writing, he balances chess and works out tunes on his keyboard during his free time.

One Comment

  1. The most definitive book on the Titanic is “ Titanic Triumph and Tradgedy” by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Hass.

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