Synopses & Reviews
Late in the night of April 14, 1912, the mighty Titanic
, a passenger liner traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City, struck an iceberg four hundred miles south of Newfoundland. Its sinking over the next two and a half hours brought the ship—mythological in name and size—one hundred years of infamy.
Of the 2,240 people aboard the ship, 1,517 perished either by drowning or by freezing to death in the frigid North Atlantic waters. What followed the disaster was tantamount to a worldwide outpouring of grief: In New York, Paris, London, and other major cities, people lined the streets and crowded around the offices of the White Star Line, the Titanics shipping company, to inquire for news of their loved ones and for details about the lives of some of the famous people of their time.
While many accounts of the Titanics voyage focus on the technical or mechanical aspects of why the ship sank, Voyagers of the Titanic follows the stories of the men, women, and children whose lives intersected on the vessels fateful last day, covering the full range of first, second, and third class—from plutocrats and captains of industry to cobblers and tailors looking for a better life in America.
Richard Davenport-Hines delves into the fascinating lives of those who ate, drank, reveled, dreamed, and died aboard the mythic ship: from John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest person on board, whose comportment that night was subject to speculation and gossip for years after the event, to Archibald Butt, the much-beloved military aide to Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, who died helping others into the Titanics few lifeboats. With magnificent prose, Voyagers of the Titanic also brings to life the untold stories of the ships middle and third classes—clergymen, teachers, hoteliers, engineers, shopkeepers, counterjumpers, and clerks—each of whom had a story that not only illuminates the fascinating ship but also the times in which it sailed. In addition, Davenport-Hines explores the fascinating politics behind the Titanics creation, which involved larger-than-life figures such as J. P. Morgan, the ships owner, and Lord Pirrie, the ships builder.
The memory of this tragedy still remains a part of the American psyche and Voyagers of the Titanic brings that clear night back to us with all of its drama and pathos.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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.” Julian Fellowes, Creator and Executive Producer of "Downton Abbey"
“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” Simon Winchester
“A shattering human story that is also, when told as well as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.” Sunday Times (UK), lead review
“Eloquent and absorbing… It will stay afloat long after the armada of other Titanic books have gone down.” The Telegraph (UK)
“This will not be the last book on the Titanic, but it is a safe bet that there will not be a better.” The Spectator (UK), lead review
“The story of the Titanic has been told many times; this one takes a sociological perspective, with the confident, graceful prose of fine fiction.” Wall Street Journal
“Meticulous... detailed account.” Women's Wear Daily.com
"The in-depth examination of the ship's passengers -- from the lowliest steerage travelers to the likes of Jacob Astor in first class -- paints a provocative portrait of the "upstairs, downstairs" social stratification in play aboard the doomed ship." Entertainment Weekly
“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.” Denver Post
“Paints a provocative portrait of the “upstairs, downstairs” social stratification in play aboard the doomed ship. A-” Entertainment Weekly
“Impressive in both its writing and reporting... Its a romp. You dont know who will be strolling down the deck next.” USA Today
“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.
About the Author
Richard Davenport-Hinesis the acclaimed biographer of W. H. Auden and the Macmillan dynasty. He is also the author of Proust at the Majestic: The Last Days of the Author Whose Book Changed Paris and The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics. He is a regular contributor to the U.K. publications Literary Review, Sunday Telegraph, Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement.