The Voyage of the Iceberg

Voyage of the Iceberg: The Story of the Iceberg That Sank the Titanic by Richard Brown
50 Book Challenge 2015: Book 1
Post 1 of 2

This was a random book I picked up. I had some motivational issues with reading last year (I failed my 2014 book challenge--I only read 41 out of 50) and it didn't look like this year was off to a good start. I picked a random book from my Titanic collection a few nights ago thinking I could read a few pages each night. That way, even if I wasn't motivated to read, I was still getting somewhere with my challenge.

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And it was a challenge to read, let me tell you. At least at first. I didn't realize it was the story about the Iceberg (written throughout with a capital "I" because, even today, 79 years after the book was written and nearly 104 years after the Titanic sank, what other iceberg do you think of when someone mentions "The Iceberg"?) I had to get used to it--the language was superfluous and flowery, almost as if the author was narrating a cheesy documentary on tv. 

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The book follows the Iceberg's travels from Greenland out to sea, with wildlife teaming around it, untouched by man until the whaling ships move in. Some of the whaling history was unnecessarily, violently descriptive (like the above passage) that was a bit unnecessary. Most of it was interesting, mentioning various animals I had never heard the names of and the interactions of whaling ships and the people who lived on Greenland.

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Despite having to adjust to the language, some of the lines were quite dramatic. "The sea begins to freeze" was my favorite--it was a bit ominous, sort of the start of the Iceberg's journey and it's ultimate fate. It's a bit post-apocalyptic. I love this line.

Some of the writing is inconsistent, however. It's written in the third person, then suddenly (in the middle of a paragraph), the author inserts his own thoughts, without any warning to show it's changing direction. The most prominent example was on page 36, when the author throws in something about being Scottish.

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My biggest disappointment with the book was unrelated to the writing itself and instead related to the actual, physical book--I purchased it at a library book sale a few years ago to add to my Titanic collection. I never opened it until now. I should have flipped through it before I purchased it--someone, probably a student, somewhere along the years had cut out four photos of the Titanic--effectively cutting out paragraphs of writing behind each photo. And it was during the Titanic sinking! The most exciting part! I read on because I knew what was happening in general, but I read several new things about the ship in this book that I had not heard before, so it was disappointing to miss out on those bits.

My copy of Voyage of the Iceberg is from 1983, but it says it was copyrighted in 1936. I thought it was a reprint of the '36 version until I got to the end. I don't know if the author wrote a new epilogue, or if someone else inserted it, but it mentioned the Titanic had been found and there was talk about visiting it in a submersible--something that clearly happened in the '80s and not the '30s. I also greatly appreciated the author discussing the fate of the whaling ships and their captains discussed in the book--whether they were lost at sea, whether they survived, and how long the ships were in service.

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It didn't occur to me until I finished the book that there was a polar bear on my bookmark--quite appropriate! 

Stay tuned for my next post--I had to research what some of the animals looked like and what some of the words meant, so I thought I'd share!

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