Sinkable: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic
From the national bestselling author of The Food Explorer, a fascinating and rollicking plunge into the story of the world’s most famous shipwreck, the RMS Titanic
On a frigid April night in 1912, the world’s largest—and soon most famous—ocean liner struck an iceberg and slipped beneath the waves. She had scarcely disappeared before her new journey began, a seemingly limitless odyssey through the world’s fixation with her every tragic detail. Plans to find and raise the Titanic began almost immediately. Yet seven decades passed before it was found. Why? And of some three million shipwrecks that litter the ocean floor, why is the world still so fascinated with this one?
In Sinkable, Daniel Stone spins a fascinating tale of history, science, and obsession, uncovering the untold story of the Titanic not as a ship but as a shipwreck. He explores generations of eccentrics, like American Charles Smith, whose 1914 recovery plan using a synchronized armada of ships bearing electromagnets was complex, convincing, and utterly impossible; Jack Grimm, a Texas oil magnate who fruitlessly dropped a fortune to find the wreck after failing to find Noah’s Ark; and the British Doug Woolley, a former pantyhose factory worker who has claimed, since the 1960s, to be the true owner of the Titanic wreckage.
Along the way, Sinkable takes readers through the two miles of ocean water in which the Titanic sank, showing how the ship broke apart and why, and delves into the odd history of our understanding of such depths. Author Daniel Stone studies the landscape of the seabed, which in the Titanic’s day was thought to be as smooth and featureless as a bathtub. He interviews scientists to understand the decades of rust and decomposition that are slowly but surely consuming the ship. (It is expected to disappear entirely within a few decades!) He even journeys over the Atlantic, during a global pandemic, to track down the elusive Doug Woolley. And Stone turns inward, looking at his own dark obsession with both the Titanic and shipwrecks in general, and why he spends hours watching ships sink on YouTube.
Brimming with humor, curiosity and wit, Sinkable follows in the tradition of Susan Orlean and Bill Bryson, offering up a page-turning work of personal journalism and an immensely entertaining romp through the deep sea and the nature of obsession.
Daniel Stone is a writer on science, history, and the environment, as well as the author of the national bestselling The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats. He's a former staff writer for National Geographic and a former White House correspondent for Newsweek. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and two sons, one of whom is a dog.