The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic  -     By: Steve Turner
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The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic

Thomas Nelson / 2011 / Hardcover

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When the Titanic collided with an iceberg in April 1912, eight members of the ship's band played to soothe frightened passengers---and continued to perform as the ship sank. Who were these brave men? Where did they come from, and what did they leave behind? Turner pays tribute to them in these eight profiles in courage. 256 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 1595552197
ISBN-13: 9781595552198
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

“They kept it up to the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence. The band was playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ I could hear it distinctly. The end was very close.” —CHARLOTTE COLLYER, TITANIC SURVIVOR

The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the “unsinkable” Titanic, her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has “that glorious band”—the group of eight musicians who played on as the Titanic slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean—been explored in such depth. Steve Turner’s extensive research reveals a fascinating story including dishonest agents, a clairvoyant, social climbers, and a fraudulent violin maker. Read what brought the band members together and how their music served as the haunting soundtrack for one of modern history’s most tragic maritime disasters.


 The Band that Played On by Steve Turner is, surprisingly, the first book since the great ship went down to examine the lives of the eight musicians who were employed by the Titanic. What these men did?standing calmly on deck playing throughout the disaster?achieved global recognition. But their individual stories, until now, have been largely unknown. What Turner has uncovered is a narrow but unique slice of history?one more chapter of compelling Titanic lore.

Turner, a music journalist, pursued living relatives of the band members and squeezed all that he could out of “inherited photographs, documents, and anecdotes” enabling him to sketch brief but poignant portraits of eight young (or at least youngish) men, all born in an optimistic era and all members of the rising middle class. To their parents, their girlfriends, and surely to themselves as well, the future must have seemed bright right up until the early morning hours of April 15, 1912…

There is much that we do not know about the final hours of these men. Why did they make the decision to play on the deck that night? What was in their hearts and minds? …

Even the Titanic survivors who witnessed their final performance quibbled over some details. Did the band march or did they kneel? Was their last number “Autumn” or was it “Nearer, My God, to Thee”? Did they stop playing during the final moments and pack their instruments away or were they still playing as the ship went down? All agreed, however, that all eight band members behaved with remarkable calm and courage. Within hours of the ship’s sinking, their story was circulating and they had already become heroes…

For Turner, however, the undisputed hero of the book is Wallace Hartley, a fine musician with religious conviction and a powerful sense of duty who seems most likely to have been the force behind those final hours of heroism. In the last pages of the book, Turner reveals a surprising Hartley discovery?a turn of events which makes a fine ending for his worthy book, even as it leaves us hopeful that the Titanic may yet have a few mysteries she is willing to give up.
—Marjorie Kehe, Book Editor, Christian Science Monitor

This detailed and sympathetic portrait of the bandsmen will be appreciated by Titanic enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Steve Turner's new book admirably fills a gap in Titanic literature. There are few good books on the subject of Titanic and, until now, none on the band itself. Steve's impressive depth of research has allowed him to vividly flesh out the stories of each of the band members and he has set these narratives in a fascinating social, political, cultural and religious context. I only wish Steve's book had been around when I was researching Wallace Hartley for my role in James Cameron's movie!
—Jonathan Evans-Jones, who played band leader Wallace Hartley in the film Titanic.

Author Bio

Steve Turnerbegan his journalistic career as Features Editor of the British rock monthly Beat Instrumental . He has written many music biographies, including Conversations with Eric Clapton , Rattle and Hum (U2), and A Hard Day's Write (the Beatles).

Product Reviews

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4.9 out Of 5
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  1. United States
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A very informative book
    April 15, 2012
    United States
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    What an informative book! Do you enjoy the stories behind well-known historical moments? If so this book is a perfect book for you. We have all heard about the tragedy of the Titanic. I would also say that most of us have heard of the brave musicians who played on the decks until the very end. What most of us do not know is who those musicians were before they boarded the Titanic. This book is filled with information I have never heard before about the lives of these eight men.

    The amount of research that went into the book is reflected in the many behind the scenes stories retold by the author. The book is not just a boring retelling of these stories but a well-written narrative of the events. I enjoyed every page of this enlightening book. From what song the different passengers heard the men playing to how they all came about being on the ship at that time, each section of this book held my attention. Each time the author revealed information about one of these amazing men, I could not wait to hear the next bit of information awaiting me on the next page!

    I gave this book 5/5 stars because of the informative writing and amount of information presented. I would recommend this book for everyone interested in the history of the Titanic.

    I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
  2. Indiana
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Easily 5 Stars!!!
    December 30, 2011
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    8 Brave Men

    8 Different Life Stories

    All come together to form 1 band for the ill-fated Titanic

    A fitting tribute to the members of the band who so heroically kept playing to calm and avoid panic amongst the other passengers before and during the sinking. Their music and religion made each man who they were, but in the end very sadly, all lost their lives.

    The families and loved ones had been left with their grief and also left to try and recover compensation for the loss of their sons/brothers/husbands and fathers. Also covered in the book are the stories of the family members and loved ones left behind after the tragedy.

    Expertly reseached and written this book offers history, captivating and amazing photos of the band members, their lives and surroundings and other important document photos. First hand accounts taken from passengers that survived the sinking and so much more. I was drawn to the book from the beginning and it held my attention until the end. Very highly recommended! Very well written!
  3. Yoder, CO
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    An interesting twist on the story of the Titanic
    April 12, 2011
    Debra Brinkman
    Yoder, CO
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I've never really been a Titanic groupie, but the musicians have always intrigued me. So I was interested in this title.

    The book starts with an overview of how the band came to be, followed by a chapter for each of the eight band members. Not much is known about some of these men, but Turner did a lot of research, and did a good job of piecing together what he could. I did get rather bogged down in this section though. There were so many details thrown out and I had a really tough time keeping track of who was who, and where we were talking about.

    The pace picks up though for the last few chapters. Once we get on board the Titanic, we read quotes from surviving passengers about the bands, and then, of course, the accident and the bands joining together and playing as the ship sinks. And what happened after... the families of the band members, their wives or fiancees...

    This is an interesting twist on the story/stories of the Titanic.

    Disclaimer: As Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson. No other compensation was received. For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.
  4. North Carolina
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Amazing History!
    April 1, 2011
    North Carolina
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I just finished reading "The Band That Played On" by Steve Turner today. Wow! What an amazing account of history! The author did some incredible research and allowed us to learn many things about the eight musicians aboard the Titanic. There is a lot of speculation about what the musicians played as the boat went down, but an overwhelming majority attests to the fact that they did play something. There were many people who scoffed at the musicians being referred to as heroes,but how many would face certain death so calmly and bravely? Turner quotes survivors as saying that the band continued to play as they were to their knees in freezing waters. The author gives us the backgrounds of these men, the backgrounds of their family members, and what happened with their families after the tragedy.The story of Wallce Hartley was astounding! When asked what he would do if he found himself on a sinking ship, he predicted that he would play his violin. He did just that. No doubt, it calmed many passengers that night. I highly recommend reading this book.

    I received this complimentary copy of the book from the publisher through the program and I was not asked to give a positive review.
  5. Grand Prairie, TX
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Comprehensive History of the Musicians
    March 24, 2011
    Jade =)
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Wallace Hartley, Roger Bricoux, William "Theo" Brailey, John Law Hume, John Wesley Woodward, Georges Krins, John Frederick Preston Clarke, Percy Cornelius Taylor. Names you're probably not familiar with. While their names may not necessarily ring a bell, it is most likely that you have heard tale of them. It was those eight, heroic gentlemen who bravely continued to perform on deck as the ship that was supposed to be unsinkable sank into the icy Atlantic Ocean. The Band That Played On is a comprehensive look into the lives of these men. Where they came from, how they became skilled musicians and eventually ended up aboard The U.S.S. Titanic for it's ill-fated first voyage. There have been many, many books written about the sinking of the magnificent ship, but this is the first book to really delve into who the musicians were that were individually selected for the gig. Steve Turner spends time on each of the guys, giving background on their family life, their schooling and previous employment.

    I found the stories of these talented men very interesting, often intriguing and amazing. This book is teeming with details of the lives of these guys. So much so that at times I became a bit overwhelmed with addresses and locations. A true history buff, or perhaps someone better at geography than I, might appreciate those minute details, but for me it was a little much and bogged down the good parts of the stories. Because none of the musicians survived the sinking, there was a bit of assumption imposed in what happened aboard the ship, but Turner writes with believable educated guesses based on facts and evidence. A few things I found extremely interesting were that two of the men had previously been on board a ship that crashed into another just a few months prior to the Titanic disaster. Another had a father who professed to be clairvoyant and begged his son not to get on the ship because something dreadful was going to happen. He didn't listen.

    There is much history and mystery surrounding the Titanic, and while Turner doesn't go into all of it, but rather stays focused on the musicians, this books makes a great compliment to other resources out there on the subject. It is inspiring to hear how brave and selfless those men were (they could have jumped aboard life boats and tried to save themselves, but they didn't). And extremely intriguing to find out how their lives intertwined and brought them to be part of such a major historical tragedy. Turner does a great job of being a comprehensive resource for those eight musicians who will forever be remembered - and who's stories are finally written on paper!

    I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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