Titanic: Death on the Water, by Tom Bradman
It has been one hundred years since the tragic maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic and the horror of the great ship’s last night on the water has not been forgotten. From James Cameron’s 1997 epic to the ITV series a number of people have retold the story of Titanic’s decent to the bottom of the ocean. Like many stories concerning Titanic Death on the Water, by father and son Tony and Tom Bradman, is an intricately woven mix of fiction and fact tracking the building of the ship to the night it sank and the surviving passengers entering America.
The book follows the story of Billy Fleming, a fourteen year old boy working at Harland and Wolff shipping yard who, after his father’s death, applies to become a bellboy for the White Star Line. Once the Titanic sets sail Billy meets some of the most famous men from the ship like Captain Smith, Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews, all powerful historical figures, and gives a first hand account of what it was like for crew members stuck on the ship as it went down.
Billy’s excursions on the magnificent ship gives younger readers a wonderfully innocent insight into the history of Titanic and what the passengers and crew who were left on the vessel as it sunk went through. Unlike many other Titanic stories, which tell of passengers falling in love, Death on the Water shows the heroism of a young boy suddenly pushed to be courageous in the face of disaster. Young boys will love it especially ones around Billy’s age as they can relate to him; they can relate to his feud with fellow bellboy George Anderson, they can relate to his desire to look after his family but seek adventure at the same time and they can relate to his desire to make it back to his home when all looks bleak.
Death on the Water is a fantastic read for young boys, whether they are interested in the history of the Titanic or not, and is also interesting for Titanic enthusiasts. With it’s cleaver blend of the fact and the fiction Tom and Tony Bradman have created a heart-warming story about a young boy’s journey into manhood on the ship they called ‘unsinkable’ that is still as potent today as it was after the Titanic sank and will be for many years to come.