Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From

Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From

4.4 11
by Richard Davenport-Hines
     
 

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“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

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Overview

“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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Entertainment Weekly
“Paints a provocative portrait of the “upstairs, downstairs” social stratification in play aboard the doomed ship. A-”
Wall Street Journal
“The story of the Titanic has been told many times; this one takes a sociological perspective, with the confident, graceful prose of fine fiction.”
USA Today
“Impressive in both its writing and reporting... It’s a romp. You don’t know who will be strolling down the deck next.”
The Telegraph (UK)
“Eloquent and absorbing… It will stay afloat long after the armada of other Titanic books have gone down.”
Women's Wear Daily.com
“Meticulous... detailed account.”
Denver Post
“This intelligent book focuses not on the ship so much as its passengers. Bolstered by photographs of the people who built, staffed, sailed on and survived the Titanic, Davenport-Hines finds a slew of new points of view from which to scan history.”
Sunday Times (UK)
“A shattering human story that is also, when told as well as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.”
The Spectator (UK)
“This will not be the last book on the Titanic, but it is a safe bet that there will not be a better.”
Simon Winchester
“Here at last is the true memorial ... a book well worthy of marking the centenary of the crystal-clear night when the immense ship slid to her terrible doom”
Julian Fellowes
“An astonishing work, of meticulous research, which allows us to know, in painful detail, the men and women on that fateful voyage. Even now, a hundred years later, Mr. Davenport-Hines finds a new, and heart-breaking, story to tell.”
Library Journal
Davenport-Hines (Auden) presents a detailed collective biography of practically everyone involved with Titanic, from her most (and least) famous passengers to the sailors to the shipbuilders. Even the iceberg gets a backstory and denouement. Especially poignant are the stories about the passengers emigrating to the United States in search of employment or joining family members already established here. Also of interest is the section on the officers and crew, which describes their work and living conditions aboard the ship, a topic normally overlooked in favor of descriptions of the first-class luxuries. VERDICT Except for a few vexing spots (even after 100 years, some authors still inaccurately state that the Morse code signal SOS is an abbreviation for "save our souls"), this is a well-researched and appealing read. Recommended for those interested in the personal angles of the story. (Illustrations not seen.) [See Prepub Alert, 9/19/11.]
Kirkus Reviews
A moving account of the people who sailed into maritime history on the doomed Titanic. In this eloquent, meticulously researched biography of the ship's international "cast of characters," biographer, historian and journalist Davenport-Hines (Ettie: The Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough, 2008, etc.) commemorates the centenary of the "most terrible wreck in the history of shipping." Rather than highlight the class divisions and antagonisms that James Cameron brought to the fore in his 1997 film, the author examines what the actual voyage meant to the different people involved with the ship. For some, an "Atlantic crossing was a regular trip they made twice or more often a year." For others, the trip meant separation from everything they had ever known. However mundane or momentous, a sea voyage was an event that reshaped human relationships on either side of the Atlantic. In his treatment of the voyagers themselves, Davenport-Hines is as democratic as his premise. He devotes one chapter to each type of person on board--sailors, crewmembers, first-, second- and third-class passengers. His stories about such notable figures as Ben Guggenheim, John Jacob Astor and Lady Duff Gordon stand side by side with those of ordinary men and women. Davenport-Hines also offers compelling portraits of the Titanic's powerful godfathers: "Lord [William James] Pirrie, whose shipyard built it, Bruce Ismay, whose company operated it, and Pierpont Morgan, who owned it." The book has all the inevitability and pathos of Greek tragedy, but by maintaining the personal dimension, the author transforms a narrative of monumental hubris meeting human error into a haunting story of real, intersecting lives on a collision course with destiny.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062100719
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
295,606
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Simon Winchester

“Here at last is the true memorial ... a book well worthy of marking the centenary of the crystal-clear night when the immense ship slid to her terrible doom”

Julian Fellowes

“An astonishing work, of meticulous research, which allows us to know, in painful detail, the men and women on that fateful voyage. Even now, a hundred years later, Mr. Davenport-Hines finds a new, and heart-breaking, story to tell.”

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