IN the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, the icy waters of the North Atlantic reverberated with the desperate screams of more than 1,500 men, women, and children—passengers of the once majestic liner Titanic. Then, as the ship sank to the ocean floor and the passengers slowly died from hypothermia, an even more awful silence settled over the sea. The sights and sounds of that night would haunt each of the vessel’s 705 survivors for the rest of their days.
Although we think we know the story of Titanic—the famously luxurious and supposedly unsinkable ship that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America—very little has been written about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did they cope in the aftermath of this horrific event? How did they come to remember that night, a disaster that has been likened to the destruction of a small town?
Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs, and diaries as well as interviews with survivors’ family members, award-winning journalist and author Andrew Wilson reveals how some used their experience to propel themselves on to fame, while others were so racked with guilt they spent the rest of their lives under the Titanic’s shadow. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives in the years that followed.
Andrew Wilson brings to life the colorful voices of many of those who lived to tell the tale, from famous survivors like Madeleine Astor (who became a bride, a widow, an heiress, and a mother all within a year), Lady Duff Gordon, and White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay, to lesser known second- and third-class passengers such as the Navratil brothers—who were traveling under assumed names because they were being abducted by their father.
Today, one hundred years after that fateful voyage, Shadow of the Titanic adds an important new dimension to our understanding of this enduringly fascinating story.
There s just no rowing away from the 1912 shipwreck s tragic backwash in this melodramatic biographical sketchbook. Journalist Wilson (Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith) surveys Titanic survivors after-stories and chalks up everything he can suicides, accidental deaths, public disgraces, divorces, remarriages, frigid failures to marry, feelings of angst, embracings of life to the disaster s legacy. He sometimes visits steerage but focuses on flamboyant first-class passengers like White Star Lines chairman Bruce Ismay, who was pilloried for not going down with the ship; an Astor widow who pursued a scandalous, violent relationship with a much-younger Italian boxer; and unsinkable fashionista Lady Duff Gordon, who shrugged off allegations that she voted against returning in the lifeboat to rescue floundering victims. The author unconvincingly manufactures Freudian complexes for his subjects to psychoanalytically link their every subsequent dysfunction and misfortune to the fatal iceberg. ( The guilt that came with surviving the Titanic lay heavy upon her heart until finally it could stand it no longer, he theorizes when movie star-survivor Dorothy Gibson succumbs to high blood pressure and coronary failure thirty-two years after the sinking.) Wilson gives a gripping account of the shipwreck proper, but the long denouement feels like a trumped-up soap opera.
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A must read for those wanting a more complete story
After reading the book I came away with a stronger appreciation for the event that truly changed naval and world history, by following the fate of those who survived and tried to lead normal lives. I would have liked to have read about the captain of the rescue ship Carpathia and what happened to him and his ship post disaster (spoiler alert, Carpathia sank during the first World War) but overall a greatly researched historical record of those who were (un)fortunate enough to be saved.
A Must Read...Titanic's Morning After Story
An incredible and spellbinding Book that finally tells us what happened to the Passengers after the Titanic went down. We all know the infamous story of the luxury liner's maiden voyage into history...but what about the people who were on it. This tells us what happened in the hours, days and years after they were rescued. Ever wonder what happened to Madeleine Astor, Bruce Ismay, Lady Duff Gordon and the other celebs of 1912? Also the lesser known survivors who we are meeting for the first time.
An extremely well written and riveting work that tells how that Night To Remember didn't really End That Night! From 1912 to the present day the disaster lives on. A very real collection of the unromantic stories we never knew about. Excellent Book, easy read and hard to put down! -Doug Olsen