This April will see the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, so expect to see a lot of commemorative documentaries and dramas about the ill-fated liner.
Even one hundred years on there's something that still fascinates people about this event. It has spawned films and books, but for me the most affecting of all is the wealth of real life stories about those who died or survived that night in the North Atlantic. Even a look at the casualty list makes poignant reading; whole families, young and old, rich and poor, came to a sudden and bitter end that night. Many of them no doubt believed this trip of a lifetime to the New World would be the start of a wonderful new life, never suspecting it would in fact be the end of this one.
I am currently reading The Story of the Titanic As Told By Its Survivors edited by Jack Winocour. Forget about all the silly Hollywood melodrama, this is the real deal. Personal eyewitness accounts by those who were there and managed to survive. The remarkable thing is there was no drama, either on the night or in the account. That is what makes the stories so gripping. The events themselves are terrible enough that anyone with a modicum of imagination can place themselves in the witness's shoes and relive the shocking events.
Many of those lost were never recovered, and of the three hundred or so bodies retrieved from the water only some were ever identified. Titanic's Ghosts is an excellent documentary about recent attempts to identify the remains.