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Protestant sermons used the Titanic to condemn the budding consumer society "We know the end of. As they sail the sea of life we know absolutely that their ship will meet disaster. African American toasts and working-class ballads made the ship emblematic of the foolishness of white people and the greed of the rich. A s revival framed the disaster as an "older kind of disaster in which people had time to die.

Still in the headlines "Titanic Baby Found Alive! Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 17th by W. Norton Company first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.


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To ask other readers questions about Down with the Old Canoe , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Down with the Old Canoe. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 17, Matt rated it liked it Shelves: titanic , commentary. Cultural histories explore the way that a culture interprets an event through various prisms. At a certain level, I find these examinations exceedingly entertaining, if not profoundly enlightening.

But at another level, I always have the gnawing sense that cultural histories try to prove too much. Thus, whenever I pick up a book like this, I feel a bit conflicted. Of course, this conflict has never stopped me from picking up a title that caught my eye. This is doubly true when the topic concerns the ill-fated, star-crossed maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic , which struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, , at a loss of some 1, lives. The Titanic was my first great passion.

Well — the first great passion I can remember. According to family photos, I spent a lot of my pre-memory years pretending to be a firefighter. Now I am a lawyer. So, I guess you can say my four year-old self would want to punch me in the face. Around the time I was six or seven, I remember sitting on the couch in my living room, between my mom and dad, watching the National Geographic special Secrets of the Titanic.

An aficionado. Obsessed, even.

I spent my high school years writing a page novel about the disaster. It had two love triangles and no sex! Titanic has been a part of my life for a long time. Which is not to say I love it more!

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I should make this clear, in case my wife reads this. It spurred my love of great stories, which has informed my abiding enthusiasm for all of history. I figured that a cultural history of Titanic would be a good way to reflect on my own fascination with a century-old shipwreck that — in world-historical terms — is but the speck of a blip of history.

Frankly, Down with the Old Canoe did not start all that auspiciously. The first chapter almost made me quit. The use of synchronicity. By the end of this pointless academic exercise, I had little patience left to continue. But I did.

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Beesley L The loss of the SS Titanic its story and its lessons Houghton | Course Hero

After all, it is just over pages long, and had Titanic on the cover. Down with the Old Canoe gets better. There are some interesting discussions. For instance, Biel details how the Titanic played a brief role in the suffragette movement. By representing the disaster as a catastrophic return to nature, the conventional narrative made paternalism appear commonsensical and universal.

Biel spends a good amount of space attempting to discern the uses of the disaster to certain groups, including social reformers, capitalists, and African Americans. Take, for example, Isidor and Ida Strauss, the couple that famously refused to be parted in entering a lifeboat. Pro-marriage groups held them up as an example of the enduring bond between a man and woman joined in holy matrimony. He lists some of the many terrible songs and terrible poems generated by artists affected by the sinking.

ISBN 13: 9780393340808

The edition I read includes a new chapter acknowledging the worldwide phenomenon. I admit: I saw it four times in the theater. The ghost-reunion finale still gets me every time. This chapter feels tacked on because it is, indeed, quite literally, tacked on. Even with the rocky start, I generally enjoyed this book. As I said at the start, I think cultural histories have their plusses and their minuses.

On the plus side, it asks you to think about a historical event as more than a discrete moment, frozen in time, but as something living, with reverberations and differing meanings.

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On the minus side, some of these reverberations and meanings are so esoteric as to be, well, meaningless. Good in that I got through the book quickly; bad in that I felt like a lot of topics received only a cursory nod.

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For the record, I represent the universe of potential readers who a buy every book about the Titanic ; and b feel compelled to read every book they buy…eventually. The best way to enjoy this book is to know exactly what it is, exactly what it is not, and to calibrate your expectations accordingly before you start reading the first page. View 2 comments. Feb 11, Jessica rated it did not like it Shelves: not-so-boring-history. I am one of the flunky, armchair historians who does believe that the sinking did have some interesting parallels to other events in early 20th century history.

Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster

Biel makes fun of me and others who think like me early in the book. I love how highbrow Biel tried to be throughout the book. His nose was so far up in the air. And, this is the same guy, who in this very book, explained the deep cultural meaning behind Danielle Steel's "No Greater Love," and the "Rambo" movies.

Oh, and "Back to t I am one of the flunky, armchair historians who does believe that the sinking did have some interesting parallels to other events in early 20th century history. Oh, and "Back to the Future. Pick one side of the fence and stay on it! This book was a huge let-down. The research was meticulous and exacting And, even though this book is shelved on "not so boring history," it was as dry as all get-out.

With something as exciting as Titanic, a story steeped in urgency, one would have thought Biel could have picked up the pace. This was slog to read. Also, the hero worship of Walter Lord!