At long last we have a book that focuses on the life of the violinist John Law “Jock” Hume and that of his family. From his death on Titanic those many years ago to Dumfries, Scotland where his fiancee and father and step-mother fight it out in the aftermath of the disaster readers are in for one wild ride.
I must say that I am very disappointed in And the Band Played On. I waited many months before breaking down and purchasing a copy, my interest first being piqued when it was released in 2011; that interest only snowballed as Titanic enthusiasts raved about the little volume on different forums. And so I popped it open, dived in and waited for the story to begin…and waited…and waited…and waited. What? Page 220 – the very last page of the book – and still nothing? All right, so perhaps I am being too critical but I found Christopher Ward’s book lacking. It doesn’t really concern Jock but rather the things his death set into motion. There is a great deal of what I would call filler material. The author tries to draw comparisons between Jock and John Jacob Astor IV (e.g. both died, both left behind unborn children…end of comparison!) and fails miserably. The great detail paid to Astor did little for the book other than rehash what most people already know; so in effect, irrelevant.
I’m also at a complete loss for words over Mr. Ward’s evident hatred for his great-grandfather, Andrew Hume (Jock’s father). Rarely does he miss the opportunity to take a jab at the man or remind readers how ashamed he is to have been related to Andrew. I have no problem at all with him disliking his great-grandfather and if all the stories about Andrew are to be believed (I did not see the documentation that the author was using to back up his claims) Mr. Ward has every right to do so. However, the rant-like paragraphs are bordering on embarrassing as the Costins are championed and the Humes degraded.
When we get right down to the nitty-gritty, I personally felt that the author was trying very hard to make a bigger story out of something that lacked material. It opens with a very detailed description of hypothermia and what happens to the human body at different temperatures. After that the CS Mackay-Bennett‘s sad journey is recounted with little mention of Hume. At this point I began to bang my head on the table. Where the heck is Jock’s story?! As it turns out I never got to it. After the recovery of his body the author goes on to narrate the post-Titanic life of the Costins and Humes and their legal fights. Not boring, per se, but rather misleading as I was expecting a biography of Jock and a little more information about Mary, none of which was in abundance.
Do I recommend And the Band Played On? Yes and no. Knowing what I know now I still would have bought the book as the families of the Titanic victims and survivors are just as important at the Titanic figures themselves. When that is taken into account then this can be considered an important addition to Titanic literature. But if that is not what you believe (shocking!) then you may want to pocket your dollars and put those greenbacks towards the purchase of another title that fits your interests.
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