Voyagers of the Titanic
Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From
“An astonishing work.”
—Julian Fellowes, Creator and Executive Producer of “Downton Abbey”
“A book well worthy of marking the centenary of the crystal-clear night when the immense ship slid to her terrible doom.”
—Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman
It has been one hundred years since the sinking of the passenger liner Titanic in the North Atlantic, yet worldwide fascination with the epic tragedy remains as strong as ever. With Voyagers of the Titanic, Richard Davenport-Hines gives us a magnificent history of the people intimately connected with the infamous ship—from deal-makers and industry giants, like J.P. Morgan, who built and operated it; to Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor IV, and other glittering aristocrats who occupied its first class cabins; to the men and women traveling below decks hoping to find a better life in America. Commemorating the centennial anniversary of the great disaster, Voyagers of the Titanic offers a fascinating, uniquely original view of one of the most momentous catastrophes of the 20th century.
An entire class structure, and its ethnic and gender stereotyping, goes down with the ship in this richly textured study of the 1912 Titanic catastrophe. Davenport-Hines (Proust at the Majestic) focuses on the pre-iceberg ship as a microcosm of Edwardian society: first class the redoubt of plutocrats, brittle manners and social snubbing, diamonds and haute couture; second class a genteel haven for school-teachers, ministers, and bounders on the make; third class awash in hopeful immigrant strivers; the proletarian crew toiling beside hellish coal furnaces or kowtowing to imperious state-room divas. It's a world of finely graded, contemptuous distinctions signs on the ship prohibited the mingling of classes which the author embroiders with vivid biographical sketches of passengers from the squirrely tycoon John Jacob Astor to the forgotten denizens of steerage. Then, in the author's well-paced, judicious account of the sinking, the reigning verities of upper-crust, Anglo-Saxon competence and chivalry capsize in a flounder of well-intentioned bungling. (Men were sternly turned away from lifeboats that were then launched half-empty because many women were too timid or brave to board them.) Davenport-Hines gives us a meticulous, engrossing recreation of the disaster and the social reality that shaped it. Photos.
Timely 100th Anniversary Reading
It's amazing that there is new information on the sinking of the Titanic, but it is found in this book. Emphasis is on the passengers (and not just 1st class). The author has done everything possible to shed light on those in second and third class--if only to tell something about their lives from what they were wearing when their bodies were found. It is a nice thing for all those formerly neglected unknowns. The book also debunks often retold wrong stories and is organized very well.
A little tedious in places