Any discussion of the sinking of the Titanic will usually include a mention of the heroic band of men who, even though facing certain death, played their instruments to the last, providing some measure of comfort and serenity to their fellow passengers. As a band, their last act lives on in fame, but as individuals very little is known about them. Steve Turner, in his book The Band That Played On, attempts to delve into the little that is known about each of the eight musicians, chronicling the history of each man, including family backgrounds and how each came to be a part of the Titanic’s fateful voyage. Turner also weighs in on the “last song” debate, answering the question of which song the band is purported to have played in their last moments. Was it really “Nearer My God to Thee” or some other song? Read the book to find out!
Although the amount of details available about each man varies, Turner weaves them together to present a stirring narrative. He does not go into the details of the sinking of the Titanic, choosing instead to focus on the musicians themselves. He gleans snippets of information about the band from accounts written by other passengers, both during and after the voyage/sinking. The end result is a book that brings the musicians out of the murky waters of obscurity and gives them back their humanity. (4/5 stars)
(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a review copy of this book.)