Skip to main content

The Unsinkable

March 2023
1min read


directed and written by Melissa Peltier, A&E Home Video, 4 hours, boxed set .

“To my mind, the world of today woke April 15, 1912,” wrote the Titanic survivor Jack Thayer, quoted in this ambitious and absorbing four-part documentary about what remains the century’s most shocking disaster. The story of the great doomed liner emerges from living witnesses and historians of the tragedy, and over the film’s four hours the fascination only grows. The idea for the ship was dreamed up over after-dinner brandy by the White Star line’s owner, J. Bruce Ismay; its construction took four years. For the few easy days of its maiden voyage from Southampton, in April 1912, the Titanic ruled the seas as the biggest, most elegant liner in the world.

Late on Sunday, April 14, the ship—which confidently carried lifeboats for a little more than half its 2,224 passengers —suffered its fatal collision with an iceberg. “To say a ship was unsinkable was flying in the face of God,” one woman remembers her mother saying on board. Frank Goldsmith, who escaped as a child, said later that the roar at a baseball stadium often horrified him as a reminder of the screams of his fellow passengers going under.

The film’s first three hours detail the ship’s construction, its brief but lavish life, and its tragic end. Part four chronicles the exciting rediscovery and exploration of its remains.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1995"

Authored by: Paul G. Labadie

If you want to visit the relic itself, you must go to San Antonio. But to get the feel of what it was like for Crockett and Travis and the rest, you should drive west into the Texas prairie.

Authored by: Diana Ketcham

The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew.

Authored by: Michael S. Durham

Elaborate earthworks engineered two thousand years ago by an impenetrably mysterious people still stand in astonishing abundance throughout the Ohio River Valley

Authored by: The Editors

FDR’s Splendid Deception

Authored by: The Editors

Prodigal Soldiers How the Generation of Officers Born of Vietnam Revolutionized the American Style of War

Authored by: The Editors

Terrible Honesty Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s

Authored by: The Editors

Emerson The Mind on Fire

Authored by: The Editors

The R&B Box 30 Years of Rhythm and Blues

Authored by: The Editors

An American City Through Time

Authored by: The Editors

Over My Dead Body The Sensational Age of the American Paperback: 1945–1955

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.