Book Review: The Band That Played On

Chances are good that you know plenty about the sinking of the Titanic, the “unsinkable” mammoth luxury ocean liner that wrecked after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912. Between the movies, television specials and museum exhibits, information about one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters is not hard to find. But what do you know of the band that famously played as the ship went down?

Probably not too much since when Steve Turner set about researching the band for his book The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic he had to dig to find information about the people behind a story that has been told many times before in only minor detail.

What makes the story particularly interesting to people of faith is that one of the songs eyewitnesses recalled hearing the band playing was the hymn “Nearer, My God To Thee.” Turner unpacks the various theories and controversies related to what songs the band played – they played on the deck of the ship long enough to play more than just a couple songs – but also goes into the biographies of the eight musicians who were selected for the ship’s maiden voyage.

For history and music lovers, the book is an intriguing look at the way musicians made a living in the early part of the 20th century, but it’s also an inspiring tale of how band leader Hartley Wallace’s faith and Christian conviction spurred him to continue leading his bandmates even as the freezing waters of the Atlantic were swirling at their feet. There’s a lot still unknown about their final moments and question marks about whether their playing to calm nerves actually led to more deaths or their playing was by choice or by captain’s orders. But what we do know and learn from published accounts and other historic documents Turner gathers to tell the story of the disaster and its aftermath is both fascinating and inspiring.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by its publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Buy The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanicfrom Christianbook.com using this linkand Delanco Camp will receive a percentage of the purchase.

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