Raise the Titanic! is an adventure novel by Clive Cussler published in the United States by the Viking Press in 1976. In 1980, the book was adapted for a feature film of the same name, minus the exclamation mark.

Novel[edit | edit source]

Raise the Titanic! was the third published book to feature the author's protagonist, Dirk Pitt.

Plot introduction[edit | edit source]

In 1912, the RMS Titanic went to the bottom of the North Atlantic in one of history's most infamous maritime disasters. Seventy-five years later, it is discovered that Titanics hold contains a shipment of a rare mineral, the only available supply in the world large enough to power a top-secret and vital United States defense program. When no method can be found of extracting the mineral under more than of water, Pitt and his crew set out to do the impossible: raise the Titanic.

Plot summary[edit | edit source]

Dr. Gene Seagram leads the top-secret Pentagon program Meta Section, which secretly attempts to leapfrog current technology by 20 to 30 years. One result: the Sicilian Project, which uses sound waves to stop incoming ballistic missiles.

The immense power needs of the Sicilian Project can be met only by an extremely rare mineral called byzanium. After satellite data pinpoints the most likely source of byzanium, Meta Section sends Sid Koplin to a small island off the northern coast of the USSR. There he discovers that the byzanium vein has already been mined. While making his way back to his hidden boat, Koplin is shot and captured by a Russian guard but is rescued by Pitt.

Using clues found by Koplin, Seagram determines that the byzanium — a chunk worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars in 1912 figures — was mined in the early part of the 20th century by a group called "The Coloradans." The group was hired by the French, but persuaded by the U.S. government to steal the mineral for the United States. Joshua Hayes Brewster and his men engage in a running battle with French assassins as they crisscross Europe trying to get their stolen goods home. Only Brewster reaches England alive, and he books passage on the maiden voyage of the great White Star Line ship Titanic.

Realizing that the only supply of byzanium sufficient to power the Sicilian Project now lies at the bottom of the North Atlantic, Dr. Seagram approaches Dirk Pitt and the National Underwater and Marine Agency and gives them the near impossible task of raising the Titanic. Using data from drop tank experiments Pitt is able to narrow down the search area and began searching with deep sea submersibles. When they find a presentation model Cornet that they can link positively to a member of the Titanic{'}s band they know they are searching in the right place. After discovering that the Titanic is in one piece they set out on audacious plan to patch all of the holes and then raise the wreck using compressed air.

While this is happening the CIA convinces the president to leak information on both the Sicilian Project and the Titanic mission to the USSR in the hopes of setting a trap to capture one of the Soviet's best intelligence men. When the leaders of the USSR realize that the development of the Sicilian Project would throw off the balance of power in the world and leave their nuclear arsenal impotent they do just as the CIA hopes and launch an operation to sabotage the mission or if possible steal the byzanium for themselves.

After Pitt is successful in raising the Titanic and exposing the Soviet spies, all are shocked when it becomes apparent that the byzanium was never actually on board the ship. This revelation, along with deep troubles with his marriage and the president's agreement to leaking word of the Sicilian Project to the Soviets eventually cause Dr. Seagram to have a nervous breakdown from which he never recovers. It is eventually revealed that Joshua Hayes Brewster, fearful that he would never make it to the United States with the mineral alive, buried the byzanium in the grave of the last of the group to fall to the French assassins in the tiny English village of Southby.

Characters in Raise the Titanic![edit | edit source]

  • Georgi Antonov - General Secretary of the Soviet Union who authorizes the attempt to sabotage the raising of the Titanic.
  • Adeline Austin - The widow of Jake Hobart who reveals that the nine men did not die in the Little Angel mine disaster but instead were hired by the French to mine ore in Russia.
  • Commodore Sir John L. Bigelow K.B.E., R.D., R.N.R - The last surviving member of the Titanic crew, Bigelow was a junior ship's officer on the Titanic the night of her sinking who was forced at gunpoint to take a crazed Joshua Hayes Brewster to the ship's cargo hold. As he locks himself in the vault in the cargo hold of the Titanic, Bigelow hears him mutter the last words "Thank God for Southby".
  • Joshua Hayes Brewster - A well-known and respected mining engineer who, along with eight of his men, allegedly perished in the Little Angel Mine disaster near Central City , Colorado. In reality he and his men were hired by the French to secretly mine byzanium in Russia.
  • Marshall Collins - Chief Kremlin Security Adviser to the president who convinces the president to leak information about the Sicilian Project in order to start a black bag operation in the hopes of developing a priceless conduit into Russian intelligence.
  • Mel Donner - One of two chief evaluators for Meta Section.
  • Ben Drummer - Russian spy in the employ of NUMA who killed Henry Munk.
  • Graham Farley - The cornet player on the Titanic who received a presentation model cornet from the White Star line the discovery of which helps pinpoint the location of the wreck. He and the ship's musicians continued to play while the ship sank to help calm the frightened passengers.
  • Al Giordino - Assistant Special Projects Director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency.
  • Commander Rudi Gunn - Commander of the Lorelei Current Drift Expedition.
  • Jake Hobart - One of "The Coloradans," an elite group of miners that dug mines in the Colorado Rockies in the early 20th century. His body was discovered by Sid Koplin in a secret Russian mine having frozen to death on February 10, 1912.
  • Officer Peter Jones - Washington, DC police officer who prevents Gene Seagram from committing suicide when he becomes despondent because the president has allowed the CIA to leak information about the Sicilian Project and it appears that the Titanic will not be able to be raised due to Russian sabotage
  • Admiral Joseph Kemper -the United States Navy's Chief of Staff.
  • Sid Koplin - Professor of mineralogy sent to Novaya Zemlya by Meta Section in search of byzanium who was rescued, after being shot by a Russian guard, by Dirk Pitt.
  • Lieutenant Pavel Marganin - Aide to Captain Prevlov who is in fact an American spy named Harry Koskoski.
  • Sam Merker - Brother of Ben Drummer and also a Russian spy on the NUMA crew.
  • Henry Munk - Sappho II crewmen who was murdered inside a submersible while working on raising the Titanic.
  • Warren Nicholson - Director of the CIA who convinces the president to allow him to risk the Titanic and the Sicilian Defense in the hopes of intelligence coup.
  • Captain Ivan Parotkin - Captain of the Soviet oceanographic research vessel Mikhail Kurkov sent to keep an eye on the Titanic raising expedition.
  • Dirk Pitt - Special Projects Director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency.
  • Vladimir Polevoi - Chief of the Foreign Secrets Direction of the KGB.
  • Captain Andre Prevlov - Russian intelligence officer for the Soviet Navy's Department of Foreign Intelligence. Prevlov is the Soviet Navy's top spy master, and the fish the CIA is hoping to catch using the Sicilian Defense and the Titanic as a trap.
  • Admiral James Sandecker - Director of the National Underwater and Marine Agency.
  • Dr. Dana Seagram - The wife of Dr. Gene Seagram of Meta Section. Dana is a marine archaeologist employed by NUMA. She is an unhappy marriage with Dr. Gene Seagram and has a brief dalliance with Dirk Pitt.
  • Dr. Gene Seagram - Physicist and a chief evaluator for Meta Section. Seagram is the driving force behind the Sicilian Project who sacrifices everything including his marriage and eventually his sanity trying to bring it to reality.
  • Dr. Murray Silverstein - Director of the Alexandria College of Oceanography. His group conducted drop tank studies using a model of the Titanic which gave Pitt and his group the best spot to look for the wreck.
  • Admiral Boris Sloyuk - Director of Soviet Naval Intelligence.
  • Vasily Tilevitch - Marshal of the Soviet Union and Chief Director of Soviet Security.
  • John Vogel - Chief curator for the Washington Museum's Hall of Music. Vogel restores the coronet recovered by Giordino which helps pinpoint the location of the wreck.

The Titanic[edit | edit source]

The Titanic in the novel is described as being intact (the accepted version of the sinking, at the time of the writing and before the wreck was found, was that she sank intact) with both forward and aft mast collapsed, and all the smokestacks (with the exception of the fourth stack) missing. The fourth stack lies on the Titanic{'}s upper deck. The masts, smokestack and any other hazard are removed before the ship was raised. The ship when she appeared on the surface was said to have looked naked without her towering smokestacks. After surviving a hurricane she arrives in New York with a huge welcome. The last mention of the Titanic is that she was in a New York dry-dock. The reader is left to decide what happens to her.

References to other works[edit | edit source]

The author credits The Maiden Voyage by G. J. Marcus as an invaluable source during the writing of Raise the Titanic!.

Literary significance and criticism[edit | edit source]

Like many books in the action adventure and thriller genres, Raise the Titanic! did not receive much critical attention from the mainstream literary press. It is however an important milestone in the career of its author Clive Cussler. Raise the Titanic! was the first of his novels to become a bestseller which helped ensure that Cussler could continue as a full-time writer, sparing him from having to go back to the advertising industry. It also showcases the continuing development of the Cussler style including a prologue set in the past, large numbers of characters, and multiple plot points that eventually come together in a riveting climax.

References to actual history, geography and current science[edit | edit source]

The author references a number of real-life people, places, and events including: Ukrainian chess grandmaster Isaac Boleslavsky; The newspaper The Rocky Mountain News; United States Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson; President of the United States William Howard Taft; the French mining conglomerate Société des mines de Lorraine; the opening of the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh King Tut; Project Jennifer an operation run by the CIA and funded by Howard Hughes, which successfully recovered portions of a Soviet nuclear submarine in of water 1974; and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Release details[edit | edit source]

  • 1976, United States, The Viking Press 0-670-58933-0, October 26th, 1976, hardcover.
  • 1990, United States, Pocket Books 0-671-72519-X, April 1st, 1990, Mass market paperback.
  • 2004, United States, Berkeley reissue edition 0-425-19452-3, February 3rd, 2004, paperback.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

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