Images Of The Past: A Century Of Man-Made Disasters by Nigel Blundell (book review).

October 11, 2019 | By | Reply More

I have to confess that the main interest in reading about disasters is ensuring that such things should never happen again and lessons were learnt from it. Nigel Blundell’s book, ‘Images Of The Past: A Century Of Man-Made Disasters’ covers 15 significant ones, although some chapters, deal with collective ones as that befallen the American and Russian space program in the 1960s.

Blundell points out in his introduction that they were also caused by man’s folly or greed, as in the case of owners. In many respects, without these disasters, I doubt if we would have so much stringent safety practices that are employed today.

The usual suspects like the Titanic and Hindenburg are covered, as are those related to the space program. One pertinent disaster for me was reading about the Welsh village of Aberfan and the coal slurry that wiped out a small school. The following year, my parents had taken me to visit relatives who lived a few villages away and they decided we ought to see it. Not so much as tourists but as a reminder of such a disaster. The site had been cleared and the strongest memory I had of the time was how quiet it was as if nature was giving its own respect to the dead.

I’m not going to itemise each chapter, covering 1912-1994, but there are four chapters devoted to ships, two to trains, two to aircraft and two to space. Of course, there have been more than those shown in these fifteen chapters, so I would treat this book as more of an example than covering everything.

Blundell is never sensational in his text and covers not only how it happened but the repercussions after. There are a lot of photographs to supplement this. In many respects, you do need a reminder of these events to get the full impact (sic) of these events and that we should never forget the lives that were lost. What is still scary is how upper management of these companies still use scapegoats than their own failures in upgrades and cutting costs that might have saved lives had they done something earlier.

Although I wish Blundell had used a final chapter to draw such conclusions as a collective, you should be able to make such connections yourself. Certainly, international laws should be covering such loopholes to ensure better safety than wait for something bad to happen. The cases shown here will make you think.

GF Willmetts

October 2019

(pub: Pen & Sword, 2019. 157 page illustrated softcover. Price: £14.99 (UK), $29.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-52674-868-3)

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Category: Books, Science

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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